On Thursday, Paul Ryan (R-WI) was elected by 236 members of the House of Representatives to serve as the body’s speaker. Over the weekend, he repeatedly told journalists that immigration reform is off the table while President Barack Obama is in office.
“Look, I think it would be a ridiculous notion to try and work on an issue like this with a president we simply cannot trust on this issue,” Ryan said on “Face the Nation.” “He tried to go it alone, circumventing the legislative process with his executive orders, so that is not in the cards.”
But the White House took issue with Ryan’s comments on Monday, noting that the representative had previously helped write a bipartisan immigration bill in 2013—only to step away from it when it was time to vote. And in that same year, the new leader of the House championed a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants at an event in Chicago, saying, “We do not want to have a society where we have different classes of people who cannot reach their American dream by being a full citizen. That is a very important part of immigration reform.”
“It’s a little hard for him to make the claim that somehow the president hasn’t acted in good faith on immigration when Speaker Ryan actively thwarted a compromise he himself helped to broker,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. “And then for him to come back and claim it’s somebody else’s fault? It’s preposterous.”
He continued: “I understand he has some complicated politics to take care of in the House when it comes to significant fractures inside of his own conference. He knows best how to handle that. But pandering to the extreme right wing of the Republican conference, including preposterous comments like that, has not served the party or the country very well.”
Immigration reform has been a major issue during the 2016 election cycle, with young Americans overwhelmingly in support of extending citizenship rights to undocumented immigrants.