It’s time to stop pretending that Speaker Paul Ryan is the Republican Party’s brand new savior in the face of Trumpism.
“Paul Ryan would be great for the party and he could certainly win,” declared Sen. Jeff Flake after Ryan announced yesterday he would not be seeking the Republican nomination should Donald Trump and Ted Cruz take their fight to a convention floor. “I’ve known him for years and he’s a good conservative.”
But on immigration issues and more broadly, there’s nothing in Speaker Ryan’s recent record to show that he’s any sort of forward-thinking conservative set to combat the extreme forces in his party. He’s been voting in lockstep with Steve King on matters relating to deporting DREAMers and blocking DAPA for years now.
And just look at his recent record on immigration, particularly his most recent act: Holding another anti-immigrant, overtly political vote on the U.S. v Texas lawsuit soon to be heard at the Supreme Court. That “very extraordinary” move (using Ryan’s own words) shows that Speaker’s alleged pro-immigrant reputation doesn’t match his actual recent record on the issue.
Far from combating the extreme, anti-immigrant forces in his party, Ryan has been kowtowing to the anti-immigrant wing of the GOP as Speaker of the House. And, he’s voted with the hard-core wing of the part on each of the eight anti-immigrant votes in the House in this Congress alone. And it’s been the House that’s been blocking passage of immigration reform for years now.
And let’s not forget he ran on the same ticket as the man who advocated for “Self Deportation.”
And yet, a recent New York Times story claimed that that Speaker Ryan, “remains a proponent of changes to the immigration system even though some Republican voters have been attracted to Mr. Trump’s plan to ban Muslims from entering the country and force Mexico to pay for a wall at the border.”
So we can only shake our heads in disbelief as Republican elites and others continue to misrepresent Ryan as some sort of moderate alternative to Trump.
Just look at the recent, partisan immigration lawsuit. On the three year anniversary of the infamous RNC autopsy report calling for the GOP to pass immigration reform – supposedly a vision in line with Speaker Ryan’s perspective – House Republicans instead voted for Speaker Paul Ryan to sign the entire U.S. House of Representatives onto an amicus brief in the highly-political U.S. v Texas immigration case, to be heard by the Supreme Court on April 18th.
Rather than simply signing on the Republican conference, as would be custom, Ryan took this unusual step of scheduling a show-vote and trying to put the full force of the House as an institution behind his anti-immigrant agenda. The case, brought by Republican Governors and Attorneys General of 26 states, is best viewed as an epic political battle.
As noted about Ryan himself called the full House vote a “very extraordinary step.” Indeed, Ryan could have filed an amicus brief on behalf of his GOP colleagues without holding a show-vote on the House floor – but that might not have sufficiently satisfied the anti-immigrant wing of the GOP, to whom Ryan has been bending over backwards to accommodate.
The latest Ryan-related news in U.S. v Texas is that the Supreme Court is allotting the House GOP 15 minutes of time during oral arguments (a development that underscores the political nature of the lawsuit). While the news is not atypical or surprising for a case such as this, what remains surprising is that Ryan’s reputation as a pro-immigrant Republican hasn’t started to suffer.
More than 90% of DAPA-eligible individuals are parents to at least one U.S. citizen; 81% have lived in the U.S. for 10 years or more; and 94%are employed, according to research from the Center for Migration Studies. And research from the Center for American Progress reminds us that more than 6.1 million U.S. citizens live with a family member who would remain in fear of deportation if the Supreme Court ruled against DAPA. Unequivocally, the supposedly-pro immigrant Paul Ryan is fighting against the protections and progress that DACA+/DAPA would provide to these families.
Speaker Ryan won’t advance a vote to overhaul our immigration system and permanently address the status of the undocumented population. And he’s working to block the temporary protections and steps forward that the deferred action policies represent for millions of American families.
So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we don’t view Ryan as a pro-immigrant champion – Speaker Ryan’s carefully cultivated media image needs to better reflect his true and recent record on the issue. Far from being a leader, Speaker Ryan has been a follower of the extremists like the anti-immigrant champion King. Make no mistake: When it comes to immigration reform, Ryan is Trump.