When Congress adjourned for its August recess, Democratic supporters of the Senate amnesty bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744), were expected to be active with House representatives and hoped to sway the undecided to their side.
The Capitol Hill rumor mill speculated that, on the other hand, Republican House leader John Boehner had instructed his members not to talk about immigration reform back home for fear of facing angry constituents. Instead of regular style Town Hall meetings, Republican leadership encouraged telephone Town Halls where they could control the questions to avoid confrontation.
In my Pennsylvania District 12, Republican freshman Rep. Keith Rothfus followed orders to a tee. I called in during Rothfus’ scheduled telephone Town Hall; I told the screener I wanted to talk about the KIDS Act. He put me on hold, and I never got a chance to speak. In the meantime, Rothfus closed his meeting by saying that when Congress reconvenes, the issues will be Obamacare, energy and jobs. Even though House deliberations about immigration make national headline news daily, the subject was noticeably absent.
The pro-immigration activists are louder and command more media attention. But they’re not better organized or more effective. While millions of patriotic Americans can’t take time off work mid-day to attend rallies or march in the streets, they’re busy sending faxes, phoning and writing letters.
Good news. The message must be getting through. For months, concerned Americans have argued that whether illegal immigrants are granted citizenship over the short or long term, the immediate urgency is provisional legal status that would authorize aliens to work. S. 744 would allow legalized illegal immigrants to enter the job market immediately with full work authorization.
This weekend, however, during his appearance on Face the Nation, Paul Ryan, former vice presidential candidate and leading amnesty advocate, said:
…illegal aliens should not receive work permits until the border is secured and interior enforcement, including E-Verify, is in place. The Schumer-Obama amnesty bill grants instant work permits to the nation's 11 million illegal aliens before any increases in border security or mandatory E-Verify are in place.
Ryan added the familiar refrains that the United States doesn’t have control of its borders and there’s no interior enforcement, and that until such a time as it does, illegal immigrants will not get work permits. Then, Ryan drifted off into fantasy land wherein he envisioned aliens paying back taxes, learning English and meeting several other conditions that will never be fulfilled.
Only the most trusting could have complete confidence in Ryan. Maybe Ryan is throwing out a trial balloon that Republicans might use as a trading chip when and if it goes to conference with the Senate. As veteran immigration reform combatants know too well, what Congress says today about immigration is not necessarily what it will say tomorrow.
Nevertheless, Ryan’s thinking is clear. With 20 million unemployed or under-employed, the last thing struggling Americans need is to compete with 11 million aliens who can suddenly be legally hired. Read and watch the entire interview here.