Immigration Reform in Congress?
The election of new Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin presents very real consequences for the prospects of immigration reform coming within this election cycle, and potentially even into the next presidency. As revealed in a series of interviews on Sunday, Rep. Ryan has no plans to work with the White House on a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
“I think it would be a ridiculous notion to try and work on an issue like this with a president we simply cannot trust on this issue,” Rep. Ryan said, referring to the November 2014 executive order issued by President Barack Obama to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. Since challenged in courts, the controversial executive orders have proven to be a rallying point around which anti-immigration conservatives in Congress have flocked.
Speaker Ryan was widely reported to have adopted the hard line stance on immigration reform as a condition of gaining the backing of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of nearly 40 lawmakers who have steadily gained influence in Washington since its founding this year. By ruling out any hopes of a comprehensive immigration reform bill reaching a vote by the end of the President’s current, and final, term, the GOP effectively punts any update on immigration policy to at least early-2017.
Complicating Rep. Ryan’s stance is the Freedom Caucus’s contentious, if short, history in leading the charge to block President Obama’s executive orders through Congressional action last year. The HFC has a reputation for being notoriously hard to negotiate with, accepting no compromises and drawing the ire of even their fellow Republicans. It would not be surprising to see the HFC adopt the same stance should the Democratic Party take the White House in the upcoming 2016 elections, but will the new Speaker of the House value loyalty to his backers or the lure of a fresh mandate to pass immigration reform (an issue he has a complicated history with)?
Until 2017, at the very least, we have a firm answer regarding immigration reform: a resounding NO. After the elections? It depends on which Paul Ryan emerges. Will it be the Paul Ryan who argued for a path to citizenship in a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013? Or will it be a Paul Ryan toeing the party line?
John B. Buda, Esq.
1201 W. Huntington Dr. Suite 209
Arcadia, CA 91007