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Hey Paul Ryan: 9 Out of 10 Immigrants Would Apply for Citizenship

by Van Le on 07/18/2013 at 12:52pm

4:58 PM EDIT: According to Think Progress, Ryan contradicted himself on citizenship just a few weeks ago:

The congressman debunked his own claim that undocumented immigrants might be “pushed” into citizenship a few weeks ago, when he stressed how arduous the process would be: “At the end of the day, if everybody else in line who came here legally and did everything right is through the system and a person then, after an exhaustive period, after a probationary period, after a green card, not consuming any government benefits, wants to get in line like everybody else for citizenship, we should allow that person to do that. That’s earning the right to become a citizen.”

Also, a member of Ryan’s staff has seemingly attempted to clarify:

A Ryan spokesperson told Rebecca Berg of the Washington Examiner, “Ryan simply said we don’t need a special pathway to citizenship to fix our immigration system.”


Some have been lifting up Paul Ryan as a conservative champion for immigration reform in the House–he’s been working behind the scenes to try and make reform happen, and has been applauded for making a strong case for the economics of reform.

But, as Washington Examiner correspondent Rebecca Berg tweeted, all that work has now apparently turned Paul into an expert on what immigrants want.  He went on the radio today to talk about the “fact” that undocumented immigrants don’t actually want to become citizens:

Earlier this year, conservative radio host Mary Walter claimed that immigrants wouldn’t apply for citizenship if they had the chance because they want to “continue living illegally” and enjoy “all the benefits” (like constantly living in fear of deportation?).  Last month, House Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said that immigration reform should not “force citizenship” on those who don’t want it.

Of course, the argument makes no sense–if immigration reform were to pass, it wouldn’t force anybody onto a path to citizenship, it would only create a path for the vast majority of immigrants who want one.  Latino Decisions polling has found that 87% of undocumented Latinos (almost 9 out of 10) would pursue citizenship if Congress passed a law making it possible.  And, as Democrats from President Obama to Harry Reid have made clear, supporters of reform won’t rest until Congress enacts a fair, inclusive, and achievable path to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans.

This new talking point may be House Republicans’ “clever” way of sending two messages in one: telling Latinos “don’t worry, we’re looking out for you” and Republicans “don’t worry, we won’t let them vote.”  But House Republicans should stop brownsplaining*, and let Latino voters–and Americans at large—do the talking about what they want to see in immigration reform.  Hint – it involves a path to citizenship.

* Like “mansplaining,” but with immigrants or minorities.

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