Paul Ryan For President? Dark Horse GOP Candidate Would Offer Hope For Comprehensive Immigration Reform

paul ryan barack obama
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and House Speaker Paul Ryan support comprehensive immigration reform, though they disagree on the legality of former’s DAPA and DACA programs. Ryan’s name has been touted as a potential dark horse candidate if no current GOP nominee can obtain a majority of delegates. Ryan was a vice-presidential candidate in 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

With Republicans panicking over the insurgency of Donald Trump and bracing for brokered convention, some are suggesting that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) should be the Republican nominee. Former Speaker John Boehner said he’d support Ryan over Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and called Texas Sen. Ted Cruz “Lucifer.” Never mind that Ryan said he won’t accept a nomination; we all know that’s just his style (see below). Ryan as a GOP nominee would provoke a collective sigh of relief for supporters of comprehensive immigration reform, who no longer have a horse in the GOP race. Ryan is regularly loathed by immigration restrictionist and sometimes lauded by immigrant advocates.

Ryan’s actual positions on immigration reform have gotten lost in recent headlines. When Ryan became Speaker of the House last fall, he pledged not to bring comprehensive immigration reform to a vote as long as Barack Obama the White House. The promise placated the House Republican Freedom Caucus, who generally oppose a pathway to citizenship for the 10.9 million immigrant in the U.S. illegally. But those promises don’t really threaten immigration advocates, including a certain Illinois Democrat who has made immigration advocacy the center of his career.

“I have worked closely with Paul Ryan for years on the immigration issue and I know he supports sensible, bipartisan reform, just like most Americans and most Members of the House.  But in order to secure GOP unity, he has had to throw aside his personal views on immigrants and immigration to appease the most vocal and most animated opponents of immigration in his party,” said Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) around the time of Ryan’s pledge.

This week, a coalition of pro-immigrant groups targeted Ryan in his home state after he announced a symbolic House vote to oppose Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration. The actions establish DACA and DAPA, programs that provide deportation relief for around 5 million immigrants temporarily. When we reached out to the SEIU and FWD.US pointing out Ryan’s past support from pro-immigrant groups, they declined to comment. Gutiérrez was upset about today’s House vote as well but doesn’t attack Ryan by name.

“The vote on Thursday is a political stunt disguised as a legal brief because the Republicans see a crass opportunity to stand with the anti-immigration wing of their party,” Gutiérrez said in his statement.

Immigrant advocates are harping on Ryan this week, but they could work with him if he were in the White House. In fact, one might argue that he has a better chance of passing comprehensive immigration reform than a Democratic candidate. Ryan, meanwhile, has said that he won’t accept the GOP nomination in the event of a contested convention. Here’s the canned statement by spokesman AshLee Strong issued today in an email to Reuters.

"The speaker is grateful for the support, but he is not interested. He will not accept a nomination and believes our nominee should be someone who ran this year," Strong said.  

But we’ve heard that kind of talk before.

“While I am grateful for the encouragement I’ve received,” Ryan told reporters when his name was first floated as Speaker of the House last fall, according to The Guardian “I will not be a candidate.”

Ryan answers when opportunity rings. That’s why he accepted the speakership, not to mention the place on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential ticket. On his website, Ryan outlays his vision for securing the border, enforce existing immigration law, expand guest-worker programs and “And fourth, we need to give people a chance to get right with the law.”

 

What do you think?