>In 2013, Paul Ryan (R-WI) appeared before the media alongside his fellow congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) to support comprehensive immigration reform. Those were different times, when the former Republican presidential candidate was content overseeing a powerful legislative committee without depending on external political calculations. Now, backing a complete reversal on this issue will be his test to become Speaker of the House.
Today, immigration – in its most restrictive definition – is at the center of the debate over Ryan’s nomination for the seat. The most conservative faction in the Republican Party has imposed conditions to give their support: that Ryan promises not to back any immigration measure during President Obama’s term, and that he does not allow any bills to reach the voting stage unless they have been green-lit by “the majority of the majority” of the GOP bench.
Ryan’s history of conservatism is impeccable. Aside from the national recognition he received when he ran for vice-president on Mitt Romney’s ticket in 2012, the legislator is well-respected by the Republican side of the House for his bills seeking to reform social services, even though they had no chance to pass due to his extreme-right views. Still, in its obsession, the small but powerful sector of the Legislature controlling the Republican agenda on immigration required more specific promises.
Ryan’s plan if he is elected House Speaker today is to use his position to offer a Republican point of view about the issues that concern the nation and to represent the Party of proposition, not just opposition. He wants to be a spokesman for ideas instead of just being the procedural leader as the position requires.
Too bad that his “vision” had to pass the censorship of the anti-immigrant Congressmen. Regardless of the fact that most Republican voters polled are in favor of regularizing the undocumented population, hard-liners rule Congress and the presidential campaign.
Ryan said yesterday that his appointment opened a new chapter for the House of Representatives. That will not be the case for immigration. The promise that the odious attitude against immigrants will continue is the price Ryan paid to move up in the Republican Congress.