Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan locked horns with Laura Ingraham on Friday during a radio interview over the current state of illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. and immigration’s effects on national unemployment.
Ingraham pushed Ryan to answer whether he would vote yes or no on the pending bill after the Senate shot down amendments that would require border security before legalization.
“We’re going to be in a situation where the Democrats run the show,” Ingraham said, pressing Ryan about the Senate bill’s arrival in the House. “And so for you guys — you’re dreaming if you think this thing is going to come out with this tough border enforcement that the Senate just said no to.”
Ryan parried by highlighting his main point: The House version of the immigration reform bill would correct the problems in the Senate’s version.
“The point I’m trying to make is that we need to fix this thing on the House,” Ryan said. “What’s the value of having the majority in the House if you don’t use it?”
Ryan said the country’s current immigration setup makes it impossible to weed the “criminal immigrants” out of the mass of “economic immigrants” who are overwhelming the border.
“We have de-facto amnesty right now,” Ryan said. “We have people who can cross the border and get a job with no consequence right now.”
Ryan also asserted that a steady influx of immigrants filtered through a reformed immigration system would soften the blow of looming labor shortages and falling birth rates, echoing similar arguments made by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
“When the baby boomers retire — we’re not like Europe, we’re not like Japan, where their birth rates are really low, but they’re not high enough. Immigration, in a decade or so, can help us,” Ryan said.
Ingraham pushed back against Ryan’s claims, citing the Congressional Budget Office’s report on the economic impacts of the impending bill.
“If the amnesty happens, those people are going to be able to compete across every job line, across every employment sector,” Ingraham said. “And the CBO report said that this approach … would drive wages down. How can Paul Ryan, the man behind the growth agenda, say that driving American wages down is a good thing over the next twelve years, for that class that is struggling in Wisconsin and beyond?”
Ryan sounded resigned to the likelihood the millions of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. remaining in the country.
“Here’s the problem. It comes down to this at the end of the day. Do you think you can round up every person in this country who came here illegally and kick them out?” he asked, as Ingraham scoffed at Ryan’s use of “Obama’s line.”
“Look, the point I’m trying to make is, if you believe you can’t do that, then you have to find a way of putting people on probation, making people acknowledge they’ve broken the law, making sure that you preference the legal immigrant who did everything right and putting them at the front of the line, and not rewarding bad behavior,” Ryan continued, adding the U.S. needs to “[make] sure that we’re fixing the system from here on, so that we don’t have anymore illegal immigration, so that we make sure we’re not stuck with the same problem ten years from now.”