Paul Albaugh / November 3, 2015

Ryan on Immigration: Obama Can’t Be Trusted

No major reform until there’s a new president.

With the election of Paul Ryan as the new speaker of the House last Thursday, there have been and will continue to be mixed predictions on how he will perform. To be sure, there are many pressing issues on which Ryan will need to show leadership and wisdom. One of the biggest concerns — one that divides Republicans — is immigration.

Many conservative constituents are skeptical of how Ryan will lead on the issue. Will he work toward his own desire for more comprehensive immigration reform, or will he listen to the voices of the conservative movement who are fed up with the business-as-usual approach? Will he be willing and able to stand against Barack Obama’s “fundamental transformation” of America?

During several interviews on Sunday, Ryan proved again that he’s a far better communicator than John Boehner could ever hope to be. He worked to reassure conservatives that his leadership will be good for the party, and he sought to let the American people know that Republicans can solve problems.

But first, the GOP has to overcome its past. Ryan noted that Republicans in Congress “don’t have a vision” and that there has been too much infighting over tactics and too little work on actual policies. Such is the challenge of the GOP’s historic congressional election victories.

Ryan also stated that Republicans need to move away from being known as the party of opposition and move toward being the party of proposition, noting that he is welcome to new ideas that can be put into action.

One of the biggest challenges he is going to face is getting Republicans in the House to agree on pieces of legislation that can likewise be agreed upon in the Senate. “I was not asked to dis-unify the Republican Party in Congress; I was asked to unify,” Ryan said. “So throwing Republicans under the bus is not part of my job description.” That should bring hope to conservatives.

Illegal immigration is one of the main issues on which Ryan will have to unify Republicans. That will most certainly not be an easy task. Ryan has made clear that he will not bring up any comprehensive immigration legislation until after there is a new (hopefully conservative) president in place who is serious about addressing immigration policy. “We won’t bring immigration legislation with a president we cannot trust on this issue,” Ryan said, but he added that it may be possible for Congress to pass limited legislation that focuses on “border enforcement and interior security.”

Many conservatives were concerned that Ryan might cave to Obama’s pro-amnesty agenda based on past legislation he proposed. Further, some conservatives claim that, since Ryan won’t advance illegal immigration legislation, he is allowing Obama to continue with his unlawful executive amnesty proceedings. But Ryan knows Obama will veto any meaningful legislation that tackles illegal immigration with anything less than amnesty. Ryan also notes that Obama has been circumventing Congress with executive orders to unilaterally rewrite immigration laws. “Presidents don’t write laws,” Ryan said. “Congress writes laws.”

Heck, even Obama repeatedly said that until it became politically convenient for him to take action anyway.

And not only is Obama working without Congress, he’s actively seeking a way around a court injunction against his amnesty.

We would likely not even be having this discussion if this president and this Justice Department would actually enforce the immigration laws on the books. There seems to be general consensus among Republicans that we need to secure the border, and Ryan sees this as something that can be brought forth. Yet Obama wants essentially open borders so it is unlikely that he would agree to Republican legislation on this matter.

But the most divisive issue between liberals, conservatives and establishment Republicans is what to do with those who are already here illegally. Rounding every illegal immigrant up and deporting them immediately isn’t realistic, though Dwight Eisenhower successfully managed such an operation, albeit on a much smaller scale and in far different times. Sealing the border to illegal crossers is desirable, but a significant portion of illegals are those who have overstayed visas. So there needs to be a functional process for dealing with the latter.

One area of reform that could likely be agreed upon between Obama and Congress is prison reform. Almost one-third of prison inmates in America are illegal immigrants. Why are taxpayer dollars being used to jail those who shouldn’t be here in the first place? Those illegal inmates could and should be deported immediately.

It’s downright tragic that Disney workers who are American citizens are being laid off while they train their foreign replacements on the H-1B visa program. It’s no wonder that conservatives are outraged at this president and Congress for allowing this to happen.

Meanwhile, it’s outrageous that many families caught crossing the border illegally are telling Customs and Border Patrol agents they expect to receive some sort of legal “permisos,” or passes, to enter the United States.

These people are fully aware of Obama’s executive actions, that there are fewer people being deported now, and that there are sanctuary cities in the U.S. where they can settle without fear of federal government intervention. This is what happens when immigration laws aren’t enforced.

Ryan and this Congress would be wise to at least take on the issue of securing the border, if not visa reform. Both are primary priorities and, we hope, areas where Republicans can work together. But they’ve got their work cut out for them in dealing with a lawless executive.

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