By Joe Guzzardi
June 17, 2016
House Speaker Paul Ryan recently released the GOP's vision for its future, timely since the November election is about four months away. Titled "A Better Way," Ryan's blueprint began on an encouraging note. The Speaker acknowledged that the nation is on the wrong path, unsurprising to most Americans, and that bold measures are needed to right the course.
Ryan addressed six critical areas: poverty, national security, the economy, health care, tax reform and the Constitution. So far, so good. But that's as far as Ryan goes. Ryan didn’t propose new legislation, and only skirted the major issues he identified that concern Americans, while he reiterated the same old tedious talking points that demonstrate why Congress has a 10 percent approval rating.
In the wake of Orlando and San Bernardino, Americans' overriding fear is woefully inadequate national security, a point on which Ryan's "better way" fell dismally short. Ryan offered the same suggestions that Americans have heard since 9/11, but that Congress has aggressively blocked or willfully failed to implement. Defeat the terrorists, protect the homeland, tackle new threats and secure our freedoms — Ryan's game plan — sounds comforting, but the Speaker has been consistently been unwilling to back up his words with actions.
Those lofty goals cannot be accomplished without substantively tightening U.S. immigration, a solution Ryan didn’t include. Ryan didn’t even suggest that he'd be open to a bipartisan discussion about laws to reduce or revamp immigration. Since immigration has been a hotly debated subject in the GOP primaries, and will be more contentious during the general election, Ryan's omission of it baffles rank-and-file Republicans.
Americans want reduced immigration. Bloomberg Business Week polling found that 61 percent of American believe that "continued immigration into the country jeopardizes the U.S." But Ryan is an open borders advocate, and has been since his early days in Congress. In 2002, then-U.S. Rep. Ryan voted to legalize illegal aliens; in 2009 he cosponsored a bill that would have legalized foreign workers here unlawfully, and in 2013, Ryan advocated for President Obama's and Senate Democrats' Gang of Eight amnesty that would have legalized about 12 million illegal immigrants and nearly tripled the total of overseas employment-based visas. Last year, in the $1.1 trillion Omnibus spending bill, Ryan approved the monies allocated to resettle 10,000 more Iraqi and Syrians refugees this fiscal year.
Ryan's advocacy puts him in political peril. His predecessor, John Boehner, resigned in part because he couldn't square his immigration expansionist philosophies with more conservative House members. And Ryan's former leadership colleague, Eric Cantor, lost his Virginia seat to immigration restrictionist candidate and current U.S. Rep. David Brat.
Time is running out for Washington to wise up about the threat that terrorism represents. Obama-appointed CIA director John Brennan issued a dire warning in his address to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Brennan testified that ISIS has put together a comprehensive strategy that includes infiltrating refugee flows, accessing smuggling routes and using conventional methods of travel, meaning planes, trains and subways, to perpetrate their heinous crimes. Belgian and French officials quickly echoed Brennan's assessment and chillingly added that an attack in Europe is "imminent."
Restricting overall immigration and pausing refugee resettlement during a national crisis isn't xenophobic or a repudiation of American traditions and values, as some on Capitol Hill insist. Less immigration is the first step to gain control of the U.S. borders and protect the nation, and it should be done immediately.
Joe Guzzardi is a Senior Writing Fellow with Californians for Population Stabilization. Contact him at [email protected].org or follow him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.