FLORIDA, April 24, 2013 — On Monday, Paul Ryan joined Luis Gutierrez at a rally in Chicago to promote immigration reform.
“A sweeping immigration bill that would provide a path to legalization for millions of illegal immigrants was introduced in the U.S. Senate last week,” WBEZ reporter Alex Keefe notes. “Gutierrez said he and Ryan are in the process of drafting a House bill.”
According to Keefe, Ryan “stressed that changing the “broken” immigration system goes along with quintessentially Republican ideals. He pointed to his own family’s immigration from Ireland during the Great Famine.”
Ryan himself said this: “There is no other economic system – no other immigration system – that has done more to lift people out of poverty than the American free enterprise system and the American immigration system that we have here”.
Gutierrez is one of the biggest supporters of immigration amnesty that Congress has ever known. Ryan’s record has leaned toward amnesty in the past, but in recent years, he opted to toe a more reasonable line.
It seems that has changed.
This change ought not be surprising, though. Before Ryan was more in line with mainstream views about illegal immigration, he was all but a member of the open borders crowd. As I mentioned last fall, his activism stretches back to well before he ran for the U.S. House.
In 1994, Ryan decided to join the fray over California’s Proposition 187. Unlike most Republicans, though, he was firmly on the opposing side. After the referendum found voter approval anyhow, he channeled his activism into a reliable voting record for the interests of mass immigration.
In 2002, 2006, and 2009, he supported measures which would have legalized the residency of an incalculable number of illegal aliens. Can you imagine how this would have played out in the Great Recession?
It’s a frightening thought.
Back in the 1990s, Ryan was a member of what a Wired Magazine reporter called “the pro-immigration mafia.” Aside from campaigning against 187, activities in this group entailed undermining Texas Representative Lamar Smith’s efforts to establish practical immigration standards. According to Wired, Ryan was at the helm of an intra-congressional letter writing scheme designed to erode support for the plan.
“Once people learned what was actually in the bill, we were able to peel them off, one by one,” he boasted.
Nonetheless, Ryan managed score a few pro-citizen votes. He did not embrace the DREAM Act, stand against border security measures, or favor minimal penalties for being in this country unlawfully.
This was all prior to joining up with Gutierrez at the rally, however.
There can be no sugarcoating Ryan’s history on the illegal immigration issue. Considering that America is in the midst of a volatile economic climate, there can be little room for his recurring tendency to waffle, if not lurch. Perhaps now he has finally decided to stick with one side of the debate. If so, this is fine with me.
Even in strong disagreement, an honest opinion can always be respected so long as it doesn’t advocate anything unsavory.
In the long term, though, Ryan’s brand of conservatism is more than a bit troubling. By focusing on strongly libertarian economic theories, rather than considering imminent realties, it would seem that he is ushering in an era of ivory tower Republicanism. His famed support of Medicare and Social Security privatization, for instance, is politically perilous and, in my opinion, socially irresponsible. Let’s not even get started on his love affair with free trade policies.
Ryan’s hardline interpretations of Roman Catholic doctrine are a cause for concern as well. His anti-family planning stances and enduring opposition to abortion services deserve their fair share of public scrutiny.
In last year’s vice presidential debate, he terribly responded to Martha Raddatz’s powerful question question regarding abortion rights. Instead of just restating Mitt Romney’s comments from earlier in the week, he failed to specify if pro-choice Americans should worry about whether abortion would remain legal under a Romney-Ryan administration.
Biden soon stepped in and clearly explained the likelihood of this. His case was tremendously convincing; much to the Republican ticket’s detriment.
For all of Ryan’s posturing as a down-home, common sense Midwesterner, it appears that he has spent his political career advocating against the interests of regular Jacks and Janes. Whether it be the factory man who loses his job to low-cost labor in the third world or the working woman who finds herself in the midst of an unexpected and unwanted pregnancy, Ryan’s ideas pave roadblocks in the way of those struggling to get by.
Perhaps this is understandable as Ryan has been a public officeholder or political operative for most of his adult life. He is afforded the luxury of crafting daring pieces of legislation without ever having to face the brunt of their consequences. One must remember that for all of his small government rhetoric, he is paid a very comfortable public sector salary, with benefits that the overwhelming majority of Americans can only dream about.
He is in a position to say very impressive things. Nonetheless, he has profited handsomely off of the very system that he wishes to downsize. It seems that there is more than a hint of immaturity behind his plans, and this is indicative of a man who has very limited professional experience outside of the political realm.
If nothing else, Paul Ryan is the textbook definition of a career politician.
Far-left? Far-right? Get real: Read more from “The Conscience of a Realist” by Joseph F. Cotto
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