The Corner

Politics & Policy

Would a Speaker Ryan Push Through Amnesty?

Right after the Senate passed Marco Rubio’s amnesty/immigration-surge bill, the Associated Press ran a story headlined “Dems pin immigration hopes on GOP’s Ryan“.

They pin them there still.

In his still-hypothetical bid for the Speakership, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has secured the coveted endorsement of Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), probably the most strident voice for amnesty in Congress. Gutierrez told MSBNC: “He would be good for the country. He would be good for the Republican Party. Paul Ryan is the kind of individual that would work with people on the other side of the aisle and that’s what we need.”

Amnesty team

This is no one-time thing for Gutierrez. In the 2013 AP piece, he called Ryan his “guiding light” on immigration. Referring to Ryan’s co-sponsorship of amnesty legislation in 2005, Gutierrez said, “It wasn’t like it was a long line of Republicans supporting it. He’s always supported immigration reform.” Ryan’s aggressive push in 2013 for a House version of Rubio’s Gang of Eight bill included joint appearances with Gutierrez; as Politico noted, “Ryan’s trip here Monday alongside Gutierrez…showed just how far Ryan’s willing to go to push for reform.”

As Reuters noted during the Gang of Eight fight: “Alex Nowrasteh of the libertarian Cato Institute said Ryan could give other Republicans political cover to support immigration reform. ‘Nobody is going to question the conservative credentials of Paul Ryan,’ he said.”

So, is it true that “A vote for Paul Ryan is a vote for Gang of Eight style amnesty that includes massive increases in legal immigration and replacing American workers with foreign-born workers”?

On the one hand, it’s unlikely his first priority would be to give Obama an immigration deal. After the tumult of the past couple of weeks, only an idiot would do such a thing, and Ryan’s no idiot.

But over the longer term, and especially under a new administration (of either party), I think it’s almost certain Ryan would bring an amnesty/immigration-surge bill to the House floor, which would pass with monolithic Democratic support plus enough Gutierrez Republicans to get to 218.

This is because for Ryan immigration isn’t a matter of appeasing corporate lobbyists, as with Boehner, or a response to changes in his district’s electorate, as with McCarthy. Ryan is a true-believer in unlimited employer-driven immigration, a devotee of Jack Kemp. John Fonte writes that Ryan is the leading figure in the faction he labels “neo-Kemp idealists” on immigration. Bob Costa’s long NRO piece in 2013 on Ryan’s central role in pushing for ever-higher levels of immigration, inspired by Kemp, cites an earlier Wired observation that Ryan’s “ties to the pro-immigration mafia ran deep.”

Paul Mirengoff at Powerline notes the curious result of a Ryan speakership:

It would be ironic, but perhaps not altogether surprising, if the Republican Freedom Caucus pushed John Boehner out and stymied Kevin McCarthy for being insufficiently hard-line conservatives, only to consent to Luis Gutierrez’s favorite choice for Republican Speaker.

That said, Ryan may look at the political price Marco Rubio has paid for serving as the front man for Chuck Schumer’s immigration agenda, and add that to his reasons for passing on the Speaker’s gavel. Both he and the country would better served if he remained as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, where he can do the most good, and the least harm.

Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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