Paul Ryan: “Common Ground” With Obama On Immigration?

Paul Ryan, the celebrated budget-cutting Republican congressman from Wisconsin has just announced he will not run for the Senate in 2012—but the Washington Post`s token “conservative” blogger Jennifer Rubin (an immigration enthusiast, needless to say), was quick to reassure her readers Paul Ryan is still available to run for president (May 17, 2011).

Not just Rubin, but pundits at the popular conservative websites Red State and Big Government as well as neocon mouthpieces like the Weekly Standard, have called for Ryan to run for president. A Ryan for President Facebook page has over 15,000 supporters.

Ryan has said that he will not run for President either, but that was back in February 2010 and there is no doubt that he is a rising star in conservative Republican circles.

Unfortunately, there is even less doubt that this is a very disturbing development for immigration reform patriots.

Most of the leading Congressional Republicans, for example John Boehner and Eric Cantor, are squishes on immigration who will usually vote the right way on when pressed, but prefer to avoid the issue. This is a far from ideal situation, but they are people we can work with.

Ryan, in contrast, is an avowed enemy of patriotic immigration reform.  The left has made much of Ryan`s admiration of Ayn Rand.  Contrary to the widespread assumption, Rand was not a supporter of open borders, but my guess is that Ryan`s position on immigration is rooted in left-libertarian sentiments. 

Of the 242 Republicans in the House, only five have a lower immigration grade from Numbers USA.  Ryan has an F on amnesty and F- on reducing foreign workers and ending chain migration. 

Ryan has cosponsored five amnesties, including the misnamed Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act, which was identical to a bill introduced by Ted Kennedy and John McCain and would have granted amnesty to virtually every single illegal alien in the country and massively increased legal immigration.

In the last Congress, Ryan appeared to have slightly backtracked on amnesty. But he still promoted gutting employer sanctions. And a close examination of his statements shows that he was simply refocusing his efforts on increasing legal immigration.

Of course, Ryan, like everyone else, says he is against amnesty.  As he explained when he voted against the DREAM Act in late 2010 (the first amnesty he has ever opposed):

“I believe new legislation should require illegal immigrants seeking a green card or citizenship to leave the United States and reapply in their home country. After illegal immigrants have reapplied, their petition would be placed at the `back of the line,` behind all other legal immigrants` petitions.

“Proposals like the `Z visa,` which would have allowed an illegal immigrant to stay in America indefinitely through continual renewals, are not an effective way of dealing with the problem. They serve the same purpose as acquiring a green card, without having to leave the country or waiting at the end of the line. In my opinion, this approach amounts to amnesty.”

Ryan makes a good point here, even if many pieces of legislation he supported in the past were “amnesty” by this definition. The mantra that illegal aliens must go to the “back of the line” is meaningless if they are in the line while already working legally in this country.

However, Ryan proposes to circumvent this problem by eliminating the “line” altogether—through massive increases in legal immigration levels. 

Thus in his issue paper opposing the DREAM legislation, Ryan also said: “While we work on illegal immigration, we must also focus on fixing legal immigration policy.”

Tellingly, President Obama echoed these clichés in his May 10 El Paso speech, saying, “stopping illegal immigration also depends on reforming our outdated system of legal immigration. “

Ryan also repeated the common immigration enthusiast refrain that

“People who are attempting to come to the country legally find that it takes years to process citizenship applications and requires endless paperwork and other requirements. In order to discourage illegal immigration, I believe it is important that we work toward improving our immigration system so needed workers and eligible people are processed in a timely manner.”

But the reason it can take years to immigrate to this country is not “paperwork”—it is because, despite the fact that we allow in over a million legal immigrants and nearly as many temporary workers each year, this is dwarfed by the number of people who want to come here

For example, each year 15 million foreigners apply for the Diversity Lottery, which grants just 50,000 visas. 

Thus, if Ryan wants to get rid of these wait lists, he really means increasing legal immigration by several million people a year.

When it comes to interior enforcement, Ryan has claimed that “an important aspect to creating a streamlined, safe and efficient visa process is to allow employers to easily and accurately verify an employee`s legal status in a timely matter.”  [Immigration, Paul Ryan]

But we already have such a system in E-Verify.  However, Ryan instead brags about his past sponsorship of the New Employees Verification Act, which would have eliminated E-Verify and replaced it with a watered-down system applying only to new hires. 

Additionally, it would have overturned every single state and local law dealing with employer sanctions, like the landmark legislation enacted by Arizona and Hazleton, PA.  And the bill would have made it easier to give social security money to Mexico.

Ryan did recently run afoul of some extreme Open Borders advocates at a Wisconsin Townhall. A retired US Marine who had property in New Mexico raised the problem of birthright citizenship.  According to The Daily Taco, a Latino news blog, there were “insensitive comments from Ryan, in which he noted that `anchor babies cost money`” and it wasn`t clear when “he spoke about `catch and release` immigration whether he was talking about human beings or fish.” [Paul Ryan Compares Latinos to Animals, Decries "Anchor Babies", by Sara Inés Calderón, April 26, 2011]

Had Ryan decided to do a 180 and talk tough on immigration?  The Wisconsin Democratic Party apparently thought his remarks were incendiary enough to put the whole exchange on YouTube. (Link below).

But what happens in the clip is actually disconcerting for the opposite reason. The retired Marine describes how anchor babies who still live in Mexico are bused into America to attend schools at taxpayer expense and asks Ryan`s opinion.  A leftist starts accusing both Ryan and the veteran of (guess what) “racism”.  After he calms her down, Ryan acknowledges that “anchor babies cost money”, but then says

“I do agree that it`s a constitutional issue… I don`t believe you can just have a statutory law change.  Now there`s difference of opinion on that, but I believe constitutionally that you`d have to change that.  Now that would take a long time.  It would be very difficult to do.  Let`s just fix our illegal immigration problem by fixing our border problem.  Now the way to do that though…is to deal with identity theft.  It`s easy for a person to get someone`s social security number……and also you need to fix legal immigration so that works the right way as well.  Take pressure off of illegal immigration.”  [Ryan - Budget Townhall - Paddock Lake, Wisconsin Democratic Party, YouTube, April 27, 2011]

In other words, Ryan is saying that he subscribes to the discredited notion that the 14th Amendment grants automatic citizenship for illegal aliens.  He says it won`t be an issue if we deal with other areas of the immigration debate.  His comments about “identity theft” are really just code words for scrapping E-Verify. And of course he brings it all back to increasing legal immigration.

He`s wrong anyway. Even if we ended illegal immigration, birthright citizenship would still be a huge problem with temporary worker programs, which Ryan also wants to increase.  

In his El Paso speech,  Barack Obama seemed to acknowledge that he would not get a massive “comprehensive immigration reform”, but instead he said would look at “what steps we can take right now—like the Dream Act and visa reform—areas where we can find common ground among Democrats and Republicans to begin fixing what`s broken.”

Despite the huffing and puffing of doctrinaire Democrats in Wisconsin, Paul Ryan is unmistakably the type of Republican with whom Obama hopes to “find common ground” in subverting employer sanctions, increasing legal immigration—and, ultimately, abolishing America.

“Washington Watcher” [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.