Speaker Paul Ryan does not support the idea of mass deportation of illegal immigrants in the country, favoring instead an immigration solution allowing them a path to legalization.
“I’m a person who believes that for the undocumented, we have to come up with a solution that doesn’t involve mass deportation, that involves people the opportunity to get right with the law, to come in and earn a legal status while we fix the rest of legal immigration,” Ryan said during his town hall with millennials at Georgetown University this afternoon. Ryan was asked why he vowed not to bring up immigration when he was elected Speaker of the House.
Ryan replied that Obama had “poisoned the well” on the issue after issuing his executive amnesty outside of Congress. He referred to the immigration history of his own family, to show that he sympathized with immigrants to the country.
“Look my name is Ryan, I’m here because the potatoes stopped growing in Ireland,” Ryan said, referring to the immigration history of his own family.
Ryan defended Republicans who were concerned about immigration reform, pointing out that it was about the “rule of law” and border security.
“This is not about a demographic, it’s not about Latinos, it’s not at all about that,” Ryan insisted.
He called for a “lasting” approach to the problem, citing Reagan’s failed amnesty as an example. He also cited George W. Bush’s failed attempt to pass immigration reform, acknowledging that he supported the president when he was in Congress.
Ryan also referred to difficulties with the immigration visa system.
“There are industries that can’t find people and also let’s make sure that people who can’t find jobs who are Americans get those jobs first,” he said.
Ryan admitted that the next president would likely address the immigration issue, since Obama had effectively killed any opportunity for reform.