Paul Ryan’s Immigration Play
Like his mentor Jack Kemp, he’s pro-immigration.

Paul Ryan (right) with Rep. Luis Gutierrez


Robert Costa

The House’s working group, which has eight members, is hoping to release its own bill in the coming weeks. Ryan isn’t part of that group, and his confidants stress that he’s 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 doesn’t mean the bill should languish in the judiciary committee for months.


“I don’t 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. It’s also outside of his budgetary wheelhouse. With a potential presidential run on the horizon, it’s a political risk.

But it’s 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, it’s a continuation of what Ryan has done his whole career — follow in Kemp’s footsteps.

“We need people to come and do work in this country so we can keep this country’s promise alive,” Ryan said at Monday’s 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 couldn’t have said it better himself.

— Robert Costa is National Review’s Washington editor.