Skip to comments.Paul Ryan’s Immigration Play
Posted on 04/26/2013 2:18:11 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Like his mentor Jack Kemp, hes pro-immigration.
This week, there was a new development in the House: Paul Ryan may be the key to passing comprehensive immigration reform.
But that should hardly come as a surprise.
Long before he was a vice-presidential nominee, Ryan was an adviser to former New York congressman Jack Kemp at Empower America, a conservative think tank. It was there, in his early twenties, that Ryan began to share Kemps politics.
Beyond fiscal issues, that meant supporting pro-immigration policies, such as an expanded guest-worker program.
Kemp often spoke passionately about how immigration was necessary for economic growth and for the Republican party to prosper. He also tangled with critics and, in a 1994 memorandum, warned against a nativist, anti-immigration climate.
We are a nation of immigrants, Kemp said in 1996, during his vice-presidential acceptance speech. We must close the backdoor of illegal immigration so that we can keep open the front door of legal immigration.
Ryan was Kemps speechwriter during that campaign, and if Ryans visit to Chicago on Monday afternoon is any indication, he continues to share Kemps view on the subject.
He even echoed Kemps approach.
There was nothing Kemp loved more than mingling in a crowd of working-class voters in a big city, and Ryan did just that. He stopped by the Erie Neighborhood House, an organization that helps the poor and immigrant families in the Windy City.
The event was quite a change of pace for Ryan. After spending a year being associated with Mitt Romney, who famously asked illegal immigrants to self-deport, Ryan was warmly greeted by mariachi music and a blessing from pro-reform religious leaders.
Later Monday, Ryan spoke at a luncheon at the City Club of Chicago, and talked about why the American dream resonates with those beyond our borders.
If you work hard and play by the rules, you can get ahead that is what the American idea is, Ryan said. No matter what the condition of your birth, you can make yourself what you want to be. That is an incredible idea.
Kemps friends say Ryan is clearly reviving his mentors message, even though Ryan didnt directly refer to his old boss in his remarks.
Oh, I heard the Kemp influence, says Vin Weber, a former Minnesota congressman and a cofounder of Empower America. Thats Jacks broad vision, that the GOP is a natural home for blacks, immigrants anyone whos aspirational.
In an interview last week with the Catholic television network EWTN, Ryan recalled his history at Kemps side and how they worked together to fight Proposition 187, a California ballot initiative that prevented non-citizens from using the states social services.
I actually campaigned with Jack Kemp against a thing called Prop 187, Ryan told host Raymond Arroyo. He said they both worried that the proposal would burn Republicans within the immigrant community, and make it so that Latino voters would not hear the other messages of empowerment.
In August 1996, political reporter John Heilemann wrote a piece for Wired magazine that spotlighted Ryans work during that period, when he floated between Kemps circle and the office of Kansas senator Sam Brownback.
Ryan reportedly was behind a deeply devastating letter that circulated in the House, asking Republicans to oppose Texas congressman Lamar Smiths bill to limit legal immigration. At the time, Ryan was a protégé of strategist Cesar Conda, Heilemann writes, and Ryans ties to the pro-immigration mafia ran deep.
Seventeen years later, Conda is Florida senator Marco Rubios chief of staff.#page#
Later, as a member of Congress, Ryan supported President George W. Bushs immigration plans and backed bills to give temporary legal status to agricultural workers. In 2010, he opposed a House version of the DREAM Act, but that was a rare instance where he broke from his usual pattern.
Politically, Ryans words in Chicago have consequence. In Rubio, reform advocates have had a Republican champion in the Senate. But in the House, theyve struggled to find a leading conservative willing to step up.
Ryan could be that figure. He may not be ready to officially endorse the Gang of Eights legislation, but in his speech, he praised the groups efforts and defended its bill on several fronts.
On the question of a path to legalization, which has drawn criticism from conservatives, Ryan was supportive. We have to offer people a path to earned legalization, he said. We have to invite people to come out of the shadows.
Ryan then pushed back against Republican critics, such as Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who have argued that the bill would be a burden to taxpayers. Immigration reform will benefit Americas economy, Ryan said. He predicted that reform would lead to job growth and urged conservatives to see it as more than a price tag.
Earlier in the day, when asked about how the Boston bombings could affect the debate, Ryan was undeterred. If anything, what we see in Boston is that we have to fix and modernize our immigration system, he said. National-security reasons, economic-security reasons for all those reasons, we need to fix our broken immigration system.
Ryans comments in Chicago were closely monitored by House Republicans, and especially by the leadership, which has been hesitant to embrace the Senates legislation. Theyre worried about the bills being tagged as amnesty by the grassroots and arent looking to rush it to the floor.
Ryans Kemp-like speech could alter their calculus.
As a conservative favorite who started his career as Kemps foot soldier, Ryan gives cover to Republicans who are privately supportive of reform but nervous about backing anything that includes a path to legalization for millions.
Ryan, an ally to Speaker John Boehner, will likely play an important behind-the-scenes role, too.
Boehner has been mostly quiet on how hed like to proceed, but he sounded quite similar to Ryan in a Monday interview with Fox News. Primarily, Im in the camp of, if we fix our immigration system, it may actually help us understand whos here, why theyre here, and what legal status they have, he said.
According to GOP insiders, Ryan has been huddling with Representative Raul Labrador of Idaho, a member of the Houses working group on immigration. Theyve gone over Labradors concerns, and discussed how they can make the House version of the Senates bill more palatable to their colleagues, perhaps by splitting it into parts.
And on Monday in Chicago, Representative Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, a Democrat and another member of the Houses bipartisan working group, was at Ryans side. Their relationship, which is both personal and professional, goes back years.
In an interview with MSNBC in December, Gutierrez said that he approached Ryan shortly after the election and was encouraged by his interest in building consensus. Ryan, he confided, told him that he wanted to make immigration reform one of his top priorities.#page#
The Houses working group, which has eight members, is hoping to release its own bill in the coming weeks. Ryan isnt part of that group, and his confidants stress that hes not trying to elbow his way into those negotiations. But in the meantime, he will cheer them on and keep tabs on their progress.
Everyone is talking about Rubio, and Rubio is crucial. But Ryan could be the person who makes this all happen, says a senior GOP aide. He has trust from both sides, which is so rare, and House Republicans listen to him.
Other staffers say the same. As a member of the House since 1999, Ryan is seen as someone who can reassure conservatives that regular order will be followed, but that doesnt mean the bill should languish in the judiciary committee for months.
I dont worry about moving too quickly, because this has to be a very methodical process to begin with, Ryan told Breitbart News on Tuesday. You just have to give these things a normal time to progress at a good pace.
This is a new role for Ryan being the conduit between conservative backbenchers, GOP leaders, and Democrats. Its also outside of his budgetary wheelhouse. With a potential presidential run on the horizon, its a political risk.
But its something that the Wisconsin Republican appears ready to take on. He told me last week that he returned to the House because he wanted to solve difficult problems, and not just play politics.
With immigration reform, Ryan is certainly tackling a tough issue. But for those political observers who have been following him since he was a lanky twentysomething, its a continuation of what Ryan has done his whole career follow in Kemps footsteps.
We need people to come and do work in this country so we can keep this countrys promise alive, Ryan said at Mondays luncheon. We do not want to have a society where we have different classes of people, where they cannot reach their American dream by being a full citizen.
Kemp couldnt have said it better himself.
Another bought & paid for, Chamber of Commerce whore.
Wow. Sure glad I voted for Romney/Ryan, the Batman and Robin of Rinoism.
“. At the time, Ryan was a protégé of strategist Cesar Conda, Heilemann writes, and Ryans ties to the pro-immigration mafia ran deep.
Seventeen years later, Conda is Florida senator Marco Rubios chief of staff.#page# “
And if you think that is a coincidence, I’ve got a bridge for sale!
WHO IS CESAR CONDA??
By the way, during the Bush push for amnesty, ‘conservatives’ signed a letter to the WSJ endorsing it...Jack Kemp was one of the signers, as was Conda, Grover Norquist, and Newt Gingrich.
HOW is it that we never knew any of this about Ryan when he was running for VP? WE MUST VET OUR CANDIDATES...the media is picking them!
“Wow. Sure glad I voted for Romney/Ryan, the Batman and Robin of Rinoism.”
This entire candidate/election nonsense at the federal level is a twisted, sick game of ‘good cop/bad cop’.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t tell who the GOOD one is supposed to be!
I wouldn’t call this the “Paul Ryan Immigration Play” but rather the “Paul Ryan Ploy” or even the “Paul Ryan Sop to Slave Owners” calling on taxpayers to foot the bill!
Good luck finding new contributors and voters among “Conservative” Hispanics.
“Does the GOP leadership really not understand that millions of Conservatives are going to walk away from the Party if they help pass Amnesty?”
No, they don’t believe that, and frankly neither do I. Sure, there will be many, just like many have already walked away. Let’s face it, as long as one of these hacks throws out a ‘conservative’ bone once in a while against gay marriage, or abortion, or the 2nd amendment, they’ll stick with the traitors, and the traitors know it. It’s not as if they haven’t already pulled this crappola over and over, and yet, most will still vote for them over the Dem. candidate. And if you haven’t noticed, not many of them even throw us a bone anymore, but they sure don’t mind insulting us. The GOP grassroots suffers from abused wife syndrome.
Good cop/bad cop.
Hmm. And Ryan was supposed to be the “solid” part of the Romney-Ryan ticket. My distrust and my disgust towards that ticket has proven well warranted, time and time again. The GOP lost me these past four years, after exclusively supporting and voting for them my entire voting life.
Now true conservatives can begin to see the real reach of liberal Republicans. I remember when my mother went through the citizenship naturalization process how the process had point of origin limitations. The symbolic meaning of the Statue of Liberty was very prominent. My mother was admonished that she was not to be a burden on the Government, this after she had sweated out years of turmoil and uncertain employment during the rising power of unions and the great depression with it’s catastrophic unemployment. The same specific warning was given to my wife when she became a USA citizen from Sweden. There were quotas to allot immigration from other nations because in the those days of my mother with very high unemployment immigration was to be severely limited and these still held at the time my wife was naturalized as a citizen. . The mobilization of industry for WWII showed that the USA already had a cache of workers and we didn’t need any foreign injections. I know and realize that the war was an extraordinary demand on human resources and the gist is that we need to look at what the Nation has on hold and make adjustments to that instead of increasing and perpetuating an economy based on political gamesmanship let alone the demonstrated security risks.
Before there was George W. Bush’s compassionate conservatism, there was Jack Kemp and his big government conservatism. Kemp preached to us about how he showered with black football teammates and understand better than the racist Republican party that poor people should have houses whether they could afford it not.
The American public are the outsiders to "those people across the river" 90% Dems.
What crawls for me is the 11-million number the Repubs keep LYING about, it's 30-Million min.
Meanwhile the Democrat's rejoice at the Repubs trying to do the same as them,
just a little bit different. Traitors to our country, all of them.
I think Priebus and company are counting on the fact that, when election time rolls around, many if not most conservatives will once again clench their teeth and vote for the Repub, whomever he turns out to be.
When I try to talk to my conservative friends and family about this garbage, they just say, "Well, where else are we going to go?" and shrug and change the subject. They don't want to hear it; they get offended at criticism of anyone with an R behind the name. To them, Democrat = bad, Republican = good, and it's as simple as that. It's maddening.