Ryan Sparks Split on Immigration

Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, August 13, 2012

Rep. Paul Ryan could be Mitt Romney’s olive branch to voters who want to see illegal immigrants gain legal status, with the Wisconsin Republican having repeatedly backed legalization efforts and cast himself in the mold of former President George W. Bush, who fought a battle with his own party on the issue.

But in the first few days since Mr. Ryan was announced, a split is developing among immigration reformers. Those in the business community say they are thrilled, while those who approach the issue from an immigrant-rights stance reject him as a salesman.

Mr. Ryan’s record is decidedly mixed.

As a staffer in Washington, he worked for Jack Kemp and Sen. Sam Brownback—both of whom were part of the Republicans’ pro-immigration wing, and who fought crackdown efforts from within their own party.

As a congressman, he voted for a 2002 legalization bill, praised the 2006 Senate immigration bill backed by Mr. Bush and co-sponsored a 2009 Democratic bill that would have legalized immigrant farmworkers. Each time, he was in a minority of Republicans.

But he also routinely backed the House Republicans’ enforcement bills, including voting for the Secure Fence Act and for a 2005 bill that would have turned being an illegal immigrant from a civil violation to a criminal charge. Most recently, he voted against the Dream Act to legalize young adult illegal immigrants.


But Rick Swartz, who founded the National Immigration Forum in 1982 and who worked for decades to build left-right coalitions on immigration, said Mr. Ryan does offer a chance for outreach on an issue that has bedeviled the GOP for a decade.

“Yes—but,” Mr. Swartz said. “The ‘yes’ is, intellectually, substantively, past record, knowledge of the issue, yes. The ‘but’ is, [it] depends on the constituency to which one is appealing. So for high-techs, yes. For Latinos, kind of less so. Because, ‘What have you done for me lately?’”


Mr. Ryan was part of what one reporter, writing for Wired Magazine in the 1990s, dubbed “the pro-immigration mafia.” The magazine said he worked against California’s Proposition 187 in 1994, and then worked to water down the strict immigration limits in a bill Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, was working to pass in the mid-1990s.


“Although he has co-sponsored amnesties to give illegal aliens a path to citizenship, I can’t find examples of Ryan making speeches, writing op-eds or otherwise publicly advocating for the amnesty,” wrote Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA, in an action alert to its members.

Mr. Beck said Mr. Ryan in recent years has “discarded most of his bad immigration habits from the Bush era.”

Still, NumbersUSA, which graded Mr. Ryan a “C” for his record, asked its members to be on the lookout for any Ryan statements that would help them delve more deeply into his record.


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  • Be more to my liking if he got an “F”. It would mean he cares about a problem.
    There should be no such thing as a “sanctuary city”.

  • IKantunderstand

    Romney and Ryan both suck on immigration. Honestly, the fact that Romney picked a White guy as is running mate, is the only hopeful sign I’ve seen in a long time.

  • Jim

    The Washington Post has said that Ryan’s views on immigration have “evolved” from that of being lax on illegals in the ’90’s to being anti-amnesty and pro-border fence today.

    Could be worse, I guess. I wish my enthusiasm could be greater, however.

  • IstvanIN

    The sad thing is there are so many reasons to end all immigration that one never need mention race but even those are taboo.  We let the boat sink because no one wants to stem the flow of water regardless of why it is a good idea.

  • On Saturday, I asked my readers to grade the Paul Ryan pick:


    Reason I did is because I wanted a “GPA” of sorts of people who are of like mind to us.  With only 20 votes so far, the pick has a GPA of 2.4, meaning a C+.  I’d like some more people to participate in this poll so I can have bigger and better sample than just 20.  I answered my own poll question, yes, I’m that lame.  I gave it a C. I wanted Jan Brewer, I feared Marco Rubio, Piyush Jindal, Nimrata Randhawa (“Nikki Haley”), Allen West. Ryan’s immigration record is among the worst of House Republicans but among the better of the consensus finalists for Romney running mates, it was a bit worse during Bush and a bit better during Obama, so on immigration, Ryan is sort of a front runner.

    • Eagle_Eyed

      Voted B.  Reasoning was such:

      I looked at possible (for Romney) choices, and graded them on a continuum.  I put Kris Kobach at the top, fiscal conservatives but weak-on-immigration choices in the middle (Christie, Rubio to an extent), and outright disasters at the bottom (like Condi or some Palinesque choice who would be ridiculed ad naseum without any push back by the weak-kneed GOP).

      Ryan was near the top at that list, although his immigration record should be better.  Given that Romney won the nomination, I think Ryan was certainly not the worse we could have expected.  And as a fiscal and social conservative, he is at least better here than others would be (Condi comes to mind).

  • JohnEngelman

    The Republican Party does not want to lose the entire Hispanic vote to President Obama. The main factor behind Republican equivocation on immigration is that employers like cheap labor. 

  • Why cannot we simply have someone who believes in enforcing the law and not rewarding those who slithered across our border in violation of our laws, as well as sovereignty! The fact that such a position is demonized as “extremist, racists and right-winged” shows how far the La  Raza zealots and their liberal enablers have moved the goals posts on this issue. Fortunately, most Americans can see thought their lies and propaganda, which makes this all the more frustrating.

    If it were up to the American people, I truly believe the border would be secured and illegal invaders deported. However, open border zealots and their White-hating liberal enablers have hijacked this government, whereby someone like Ryan is now considered a moderate on the issue of illegal invaders.

    Look how far we have gone to the left on this issue. Someone like Ryan, who supported rewarding these lawbreakers, is the best we can do. We are so far away from simply enforcing the law and not giving into these invaders that seriously, I do not know how we ever go back to simply enforcing the law. Look what is happening to Joe Arpaio for simply enforcing the law. How do we get back to the riule of law and deporting illegal invaders? I see no one on the political horizon that will advocate deportation. Where are they?

  • anmpr1

    Here is how it works: the Democrats let them in illegally, and then the Republicans work like mad to come up with a plan to make them legal, once they are here.  The former get the votes, and the latter (think Chamber of Commerce types and Agribusiness interests) get the cheap labor.

  • jeffaral

    If you’re mad, vote for Romney-Ryan.   Choose the lesser evil, vote for Obongo.   In fact don’t vote at all!

  • patriotdad76

    Ryan may have a C-, but Obama has an F.

    And the libertarian guy also has an F.

  • Neanderthaldna

    Ryan is a politician.  Who knows what he believes?  He blows with the wind when he must.  
    And let’s not forget.  The Republicans were all for importing illegals who would work for a pittance and not complain.  Just as responsible as the Dems in my opinion.  Different motivation, same outcome.

  • Anon12

     You are so right again, Luke! 

    Roy Beck is nothing but controlled opposition. Just as the  talking heads are in the media. Rush, Levin, Savage, etc… We as White racialists have NO ONE we can ever trust to defend our race and our White nations.  Every White org is infiltrated and every single one is working AGAINST us but give the “impression” they are on our side……don’t be fooled by these charlatans.