In response to the announcement that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan will retire, the following are the reactions of Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, and Juan Escalante, Communications Manager of America’s Voice and a DACA recipient:
Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
In the mid-1990s, I met Paul Ryan when he was young Jack Kemp acolyte working for Empower America. That Paul Ryan was an outspoken and tireless defender of immigrants and immigration. He was fearless, strategic and determined.
After he became one of the most powerful people in the nation, however, Speaker Paul Ryan did nothing on immigration except to front for President Trump’s nativism.
The old Paul Ryan believed immigration was central pillar to the American experiment. The new Paul Ryan acts to advance Trump’s odious ideas in the House of Representatives. As we speak, he and his leadership team are trying to gain support for a bill, sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), that would take a wrecking ball to the Statue of Liberty by slashing legal immigration, turbocharging deportations, building a border wall, denying state and local jurisdictions the authority to determine their own public safety strategies, and imposing government control on the hiring of all workers.
This is not only bad policy, but it’s bad politics. Trump’s nativism is a key component of why a Coalition of the Decent will flip the House this November. Instead of helping his more moderate members in suburban and diverse districts get a win on DACA, he remained tethered to the Freedom Caucus, and its insistence on keeping out and kicking out those who want to share in the American Dream.
He could have been a leader who put his party on the right side of history. Instead, the non-racist, pro-immigration libertarian of yore yielded to the party hack intent on kissing Trump’s ring and advancing a radical restrictionist agenda. How sad. How cynical.
Juan Escalante, DACA recipient and Communications Manager at America’s Voice:
As a Dreamer, I will remember Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s tenure for its false promises, fake reassurances, and continued inaction in the face of direct threats to my future in America.
Last year, Speaker Ryan told my fellow Dreamer Angelica Villalobos that she shouldn’t worry about getting deported and that Congress needed to ‘find a way to make sure that you can get right with the law,’ stressing that President Trump agreed with him. And yet, Ryan failed to hold a single vote on legislation to protect Dreamers and resolve our ongoing uncertainty and crisis. And in the face of Trump’s Deportation Force and cruelty across the country, Speaker Ryan has been more of an enabler than a leader proposing a different vision for his party and his country.
Either Paul Ryan never really embraced the pro-Dreamer and pro-immigrant beliefs he supposedly had or else he lacked the courage, conviction and backbone to help advance them in the face of hostility from within his own party. As his Speakership winds down, I’m not sure which is worse.