When Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan to fill the vice presidential slot on the Republican ticket, he got a candidate with a record of party-line voting on immigration policy and criticism of the Obama administration’s reform initiatives.
The Wisconsin congressman opposed DREAM Act legislation, wants tighter border controls and rejects any version of comprehensive reform that includes a path toward legal residency for the country’s 11 million undocumented residents. Ryan also has been a vocal supporter of Romney’s positions on immigration.
After campaigning with Romney in April 2012, Ryan told ABC News that President Obama had most of four years to fix the nation’s broken immigration system but failed to do it.
“I would say that the president had his whole entire party running Congress for two years and he chose not to do anything about this problem,” Ryan told ABC. “The immigration system is broken for everybody involved in it. It needs to be fixed and we are the party of opportunity. We do believe in legal immigration. Most of us are a product of it. We’re a product of immigration success stories. And I think he’ll speak to that.”
Ryan voted against a version of the DREAM Act in 2010 and says it makes no sense to pass legislation for the children of undocumented immigrants without fixing the entire immigration system at the same time.
“I believe it would be a serious mistake to pursue piecemeal reforms like the DREAM Act without first putting in place these fundamental components of immigration reform,” he says on his website.
In June 2012, Ryan joined the House Republican leadership in criticizing President Obama’s “deferred enforcement” plan to allow the children of undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation.
Ryan has voted for building a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border and also voted for a bill that supported Minutemen civilian border patrol groups. Though in 2011, Ryan supported budget cuts of $600 million from border security and immigration enforcement.
E-Verify System Is Essential to Reform
He has been a supporter of the government’s E-Verify computer system that allows employers to check the immigration status of potential employees. Ryan has said that E-Verify is essential for implementing a temporary guest worker program that would give U.S. businesses the labor they need and also enhance border security.
“By providing a way to legally link employers with immigrant workers, we would relieve pressure on the borders from people who are coming here to seek work,” he says. “This would allow us more time to pursue the people who mean to do us harm—criminals, terrorists, and drug smugglers.”
Ryan believes any reform bill Congress passes “must first include strong border security provisions, an enforceable guest worker program, a secure employee verification system, and a system that does not reward illegal behavior.”
Illegal Residents Must Return to Homelands
Ryan believes that the government should not allow the 11 million undocumented residents to remain in the country without leaving it first. He says:
“New legislation addressing immigration policies should require illegal immigrants seeking a green card or citizenship to leave the United States and reapply for citizenship outside of the U.S., so that they can then re-enter the country legally, thus upholding the rule of law.”
Ryan told ABC News that Romney will appeal to Latino and Hispanic voters who want immigration reformed the right way.
“I think he will be inclusive and welcoming to Latinos, to immigrants,” he told the network. “I think that based on my representation of Latinos – I do bilingual town-hall meetings every year – what I get from the immigrant community is that they want legal immigration cleaned up. They want illegal immigration stopped.”