Paul Ryan lays out immigration proposals in Racine town hall
By Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Racine — Coming face-to-face with activists, immigrants and the children of undocumented immigrants, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan Friday laid out his proposals to achieve a consensus in Congress and push through long-sought reform of the nation's immigration laws.
"Immigration is a good thing for this country. It is this country," Ryan told more than 200 people who attended the town hall meeting at St. Patrick's Catholic Church.
Ryan, the Janesville Republican who was the 2012 vice presidential candidate, has been a key behind-the-scenes player on the issue in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Senate has already passed an immigration reform bill that included a 13-year path to citizenship for the 11 million people who are in the country illegally.
"A lot of people are saying, just pass the Senate bill," Ryan said. "That's not what the House is going to do.
"I think we can make it better."
"I'm not doing this for politics," Ryan later said. "I think it's the right thing to do for the country."
Ryan said in the House, where the Republicans are in the majority, the intent "is to bring five or six bills...to fix these problems one step at a time in a comprehensive way."
Ryan said negotiations are underway to bring "these various bills to the floor in Congress. Tentatively, in October, we're going to vote on a border security bill, an interior enforcement bill, a bill for legal immigration."
Ryan also said: "We're going to vote on a bill for people who are undocumented."
Under such a plan, those who are here illegally would have to wait a minimum of 15 years to gain citizenship. But they would be eligible to receive a "probationary visa."
Ryan was asked by an audience member for his reaction to the controversial comments made by Republican congressman Steve King of Iowa. During an interview with the conservative online site Newsmax, King derided the idea of creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented children.
King said, "For every one who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there that, they weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."
Ryan said, "Representative King's remarks, I disagree with, I disavow and they're wrong."