Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, slammed former House speaker Paul Ryan and other moderate Republicans on Thursday for stalling potential progress on immigration reform.
Cuccinelli specifically targeted Ryan for his opposition to legislation introduced by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) in June 2018 that would have curtailed legal immigration while temporarily shielding so-called Dreamers from deportation.
“And let’s not forget to be bipartisan in our criticism,” Cuccinelli said during a panel discussion at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, according to The Hill. “When Paul Ryan was the speaker, Paul Ryan submarined the best opportunity we had legislatively with the Goodlatte bill, which in the Judiciary Committee came through. And not enough people will challenge their own leadership in the GOP to beat them down when they are wrong.”
Ryan, who retired from Congress in January, was one of 41 Republicans who joined Democrats in opposing the legislation. He and fellow moderates in the Republican caucus instead backed legislation that would have granted a path to citizenship for Dreamers, rather than temporary relief from deportation.
Cuccinelli, who has developed a reputation as a staunch advocate of restrictionist immigration policy, suggested during his remarks that Ryan and other GOP moderates proved overly deferential to the business community in their approach to immigration reform.
“We had leadership there that defended the status quo,” he said. “They were the Chamber of Commerce Congress. They wanted illegal immigration — and this is not just left and right, there’s plenty of people who are often associated with the right, although I don’t know what the Chamber of Commerce is.”
Ryan has returned to the private sector and now plans to move back to Washington, D.C. while maintaining his residence in Wisconsin, Politico reported Tuesday.