House Speaker Paul Ryan is ruling out making any cuts to Muslim immigration.
In an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, Ryan declared that considering an applicant’s religion would not be “appropriate” and would be fundamentally un-American— insisting “that’s not who we are.”
In his questioning of Ryan, Hannity cited populist thought leader Jeff Sessions, who chairs the Senate Immigration Subcommittee and whose office has put out a series of analyses in recent months detailing the enormous scope of immigration into the United States in general, as well as the vast scope Muslim immigration in particular.
Since 9/11, the U.S. has accepted more than 2 million immigrants, refugees and asylees from predominantly Muslim nations. Sessions has repeatedly called on Congress to reduce the number of green cards issued, including in an op-ed last week one day prior to the Paris attack.
“Eighty-three percent of voters want to see projected immigration growth reduced — which means Congress must take up and pass a bill to reduce the number of visas handed out each year,” Sessions wrote. “Congress should immediately begin to move popular immigration reforms that would be backed by overwhelming majorities of voters, including… blocking the president from using federal funds to unilaterally expand the costly refugee resettlement program.”
In his question, Hannity asked Ryan point blank about some of Sessions’ recent analysis. Hannity said:
We have resettled 1.5 million Muslim migrants in the United States. Senator Sessions had put out a piece where all these people that we took in to the country then come here and then get involved in terror activity. I put it up on my website, I urge you to take a look at it. And we take in 100,000 Muslim immigrants into the United States every year. Do we have to think about somebody who grows up under Sharia— believes that women can’t drive, can’t be seen in public without a male relative, four eyewitnesses for rape— do we have a clash of cultures we’ve got to consider? How do we know if they want to assimilate? How do we know if they want to bring terror into the United States? How will we ascertain that?
Well, first of all, I don’t think a religious test is appropriate. That’s not who we are. We believe in the first amendment of religious freedom. And I don’t think it’s the appropriate test because anybody can come under the guise of something else. It’s not hard for a person to claim that they are something that they’re not— like a Christian or something like that to get into the country. That is why we are calling for a security test. I think the test that maters is a security test because anybody can try and infiltrate this country by posing as something that they are not, so I don’t think that’s the proper test. I think a security test is the proper test.
Ryan’s view stands opposed to that of his Congressional colleagues Sen. Rand Paul, Reps. Cynthia Lummis, Brian Babin, Dave Brat, Randy Weber and Steve King, who—as Breitbart News recently reported—have all expressed support for a reduction or suspension of visa issuances to Muslim countries with jihadist movements.
By declaring that it would not be “proper” or “appropriate” for the United States to consider the religion of a visa applicant— or whether the applicant supports Sharia law or Muslim theocracy— Ryan is effectively suggesting that the United States should not be allowed to select whom we admit based on likelihood of assimilation.
This view is consistent with Ryan’s two decade long history of pushing open borders immigration policies. As NumbersUSA President Roy Beck has said, “[Ryan] has spent his entire adulthood ideologically connected to the open borders crowd. Open Borders is in his ideological DNA… Open borders seeps out of every pore of his being… It’s just who he is.”
In 2013, Ryan insisted that it is the job of a U.S. lawmaker to put oneself in the shoes of a foreign national—who does not live in the United States, but would like to come here— and then work to find solutions to improve the life of that foreign citizen:
Put yourself in another person’s shoes, which if you’re in elected office, that’s what you kind of have to do that almost every single day. The job we have– and what we do is we take different people’s perspectives. The gentleman from India who’s waiting for his green card… We take all these different perspectives. We process it through our values and our morals and our principles. And then we come up with the answer to try and solve this problem. That’s basically what we do in our jobs.
Indeed, Ryan was instrumental in defeating an effort to cut visa issuances during the mid-90s, thus derailing the effort to codify into law Civil Rights leader Barbara Jordan’s plan for substantial immigration cuts in order to protect the American worker. As Game Change author John Heilemann wrote in 1996, “[Ryan’s] ties to the pro-immigration mafia ran deep.”
Hannity pressed Ryan specifically about the House’s legislation that will allow Obama to continue the Syrian refugee resettlement plan, which is opposed by a majority of all voters. Hannity asked Ryan about Babin’s amendment, which as Breitbart News reported, was “blocked [tonight] by House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) – that would have placed a six-month moratorium on allowing refugees into the United States.”
Are you including the Babin amendment, which would put a pause for six months on it, or are you not including that part [to the House’s legislation]?
This would put a pause, I believe, for longer than that. This effectively puts a pause on the program and it will take longer than six months, I believe, to put these kind of security…
However, Sen. Sessions specifically debunked this claim in a statement released earlier on Wednesday. Sessions explained that Ryan’s plan—far from blocking Obama’s refugee resettlement project—would allow for unlimited immigration and does nothing to strengthen the security of the American people:
The current proposal being considered in the House in response to the President’s dangerous refugee plan – the American SAFE Act – fails to defend the interests of the American people… The American SAFE Act allows the President to continue to bring in as many refugees as he wants from anywhere in the world. With respect to Syria and Iraq, the American SAFE Act requires only that the President direct his Secretary of Homeland Security, Director of National Intelligence, and FBI Director (all his appointees) to sign off on the administration’s screening process – a process that the White House continually asserts is adequate and ‘ensures safety.’ The plain fact is that this bill transfers the prerogative from Congress to President Obama and ensures the President’s refugee resettlement initiative will continue unabated.
NumbersUSA, a pro-security immigration group, echoed Sessions’ criticism of the Ryan’s plan:
NumbersUSA is extremely disappointed in the legislation that the House intends to put on the floor on Thursday to respond to the threat of Islamic State-inspired terrorists infiltrating the refugee flow to the United States… Instead of legislating that pause, or even bringing to the floor an existing bill (H.R. 3314 by Rep. Babin) that would pause the refugee flow, the House instead will vote to cede its responsibility for America’s safety to the FBI, the DNI, and DHS in the hopes that they can pick and choose correctly from a limited number of “covered” aliens.
In the interview, however, Ryan seemed determined to convey that the House’s bill would, in fact, “pause” refugee resettlement—despite the contrary analyses of Sen. Sessions and NumbersUSA.
Throughout the course of the short interview, Ryan specifically declared seven times that the House’s legislation would “pause” refugee resettlement.
Breitbart News has compiled Ryan’s uses of the word “pause” throughout the interview:
He [Obama] just said he’s going to veto our bill putting a pause on the refugee program… We obviously know that ISIS wants to infiltrate the refugee population, that’s very clear, so we need to put a pause on this program… We have to put this bill in place which pauses the program effectively… This [legislation] would put a pause, I believe, for longer than [the Babin measure]. This effectively puts a pause on the program and it will take longer than six months, I believe, to put [in place] these kinds of security… The FBI cannot right now certify these standards, so this [legislation] does pause the program… We are asking all of our colleagues to support fixing this— pausing this— and getting this right.
Ryan’s emphatic insistence that the legislation will “pause” the refugee resettlement program may be fueled by polling data, which shows that the American people overwhelmingly want to see the program blocked.
As Hannity explained:
Here’s my question though… Why don’t we just cancel it? Why don’t we just say, ‘You cannot come here, it’s too big a risk to the American people.’ I don’t think we can fully ascertain what’s in people’s hearts. I don’t think anybody can assure us that ISIS wouldn’t lie and create documents and the document trail, I think they would do anything to get here. Why don’t we just end the program and that might mean defunding the program. Wouldn’t that be a better idea? […] We have two polls— two polls that are out that show two-to-one the American people are against Obama bringing in Syrian refugees altogether. I would prefer— I don’t know if we can really fully vet anybody like this. Nor do we have the resources. I personally am of the belief that we shouldn’t taking them in. I think it’s too big a risk.
Ryan said, in part, that the reason the program could not simply be canceled is because, “We’re a compassionate country. The refugees laws are important laws and we don’t want terrorists to dictate how we run—whether we have a law or not.”
While throughout the interview Ryan seemed to ground his argument on the premise that we cannot apply a religious test as a basis for admissions to the United States, both Rush Limbaugh and Andrew McCarthy have explained how U.S. law does, in fact, require a religious test when it comes to making considerations about visa issuances.
Under federal law, the executive branch is expressly required to take religion into account in determining who is granted asylum. Under the provision governing asylum (section 1158 of Title 8, U.S. Code), an alien applying for admission must establish that … religion [among other things] … was or will be at least one central reason for persecuting the applicant. Moreover, to qualify for asylum in the United States, the applicant must be a “refugee” as defined by federal law. That definition (set forth in Section 1101(a)(42)(A) of Title , U.S. Code) also requires the executive branch to take account of the alien’s religion: The term “refugee” means (A) any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality … and who is unable or unwilling to return to … that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of … religion [among other things] …[.] The law requires a “religious test… it is downright dishonest to claim that taking such religious distinctions into account is “not American”… How can something American law requires be “not American”?
When I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, that’s shameful. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.” I would venture to say that virtually everybody who hears him say that probably has to nod their head in agreement. “Yeah, yeah, that’s probably right.” Except you’d all be wrong… It’s in federal law. There are religious tests and requirements through the United States law.. the law requires a religious test, and the reason for the religious test is obvious… Asylum is a discretionary national act of compassion directed by law, not a whim to address persecution… There is no right to emigrate to the United States of America… Nowhere does the law say we must put ourselves at risk in order to exercise this compassion…Therefore, us — we — by maintaining our standards as established by law, protecting our national security and sovereignty are not violating anybody’s rights by standing up for our own.
Moreover, a provision in the Immigration and Naturalization Act states, “In general – any immigrant who is or has been a member of or affiliated with the communist or other totalitarian party (or subdivision or affiliate thereof), domestic or foreign, is inadmissible.”
This arguably could apply to individuals who hold theocratic or totalitarian ideologies. In fact, in recent video footage captured on the streets of Cedar Riverside, Minnesota, showed a number of U.S. Muslims explaining that they preferred Sharia Law to American law.
Regardless, every year, under Ryan’s vision the United States can expect to continue to bring in two Muslim migrants for every one Iowa Republican primary voter. According to Pew, by 2040, the United States’ Muslim population is expected to surpass the nation’s Jewish population. It is unlikely that the Muslim migrants brought in under the nation’s current federal policy will support Ryan’s limited government platform as only 11% of U.S. Muslim, according to Pew, are Republican or lean-Republican. Ryan’s continued support for the visa gusher, however, is consistent with his past statements on the matter.
When radio talk show host David Webb asked Ryan last year whether he thought, “immigrants from the third world are more likely or less likely to support conservative policies,” Ryan answered that he thought “immigrants from the third world” were “some of the best Americans”.
Some of the best Americans are the newest Americans. People who left former Communist countries, people who left scandalous nations that are crony capitalism that deny them their rights. So people who come from those kinds of systems and those kinds of governments can make the best patriots because they finally see and taste what freedom is like, and they want to fight for it. So that kind of a person can make the best American. And the way I look at it, from our Party’s perspective, is we have to do a better job of going into these communities and exposing people to a different mindset– to these principles that they may not even have ever heard or seen before. This is a challenge that conservatives have to answer.