Guest Editorial


Paul Ryan’s immigration smoke and mirrors

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lawrence sellinOn Aug. 22, 2012, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), then the Republican candidate for Vice President, implied to talk show host Hugh Hewitt that he ran "marathons" and that his best time was an exceptional "two hour and fifty-something."

According to Runner's World, however, Ryan has only run one as a 20-year-old, in the 1990 Duluth, Minnesota Grandma's Marathon, which he completed in a more modest 4 hours, 1 minute, and 25 seconds.

An occasional exaggeration of our accomplishments is a human frailty and most often harmless. We have all done it at one time or another.

On the other hand, misleading the public, whether intentional or not, on matters of national security and the economic well-being of American workers, is quite a different and far more serious matter.

Ryan is doing exactly that in promoting comprehensive immigration reform.

Like Democrats, Ryan deceptively equates illegal aliens to legal immigrants.

Sorry, Mr. Ryan, the former are criminals. The latter are, by contrast, those who, as you say, "play by the rules."

Speaking to his new amnesty friend, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL), Ryan urged him to restart his effort to get a comprehensive immigration package through Congress, misrepresenting the problem by stating:

"You're a Catholic; I'm a Catholic; we cannot have a permanent underclass of Americans exploited in America."

Sorry, Mr. Ryan, but illegal aliens are not Americans. They are, however, exploited by the very people with whom you are trying to curry favor, the employers who want to keep wages low and, as a result, price American workers out of the market.

Noted commentator Thomas Sowell called Ryan's main economic argument for immigration reform, labor shortages, "utter nonsense."

"That's incredible," Sowell said. "I mean -first of all to an economist, it is incredible to speak about shortages without talking about prices, in this case wages...You know there, there have been so many predictions of shortages of so many occupations and the shortages don't materialize. And why not? Because if there is a shortage, the wage rate goes up, that attracts in more people and lo and behold, the jobs are filled."

No doubt, the likely beneficiaries of Ryan's wage-control immigration reform will not be American workers or the "exploited" illegal aliens, but Wisconsin dairy corporations and the manufacturers of Waukesha engines and Kohler generators in Ryan's Congressional district.
The most lethal arguments against Ryan's views, however, are the legislative proposals themselves, which did not survive the scrutiny of constitutionalist and talk show host Mark Levin.

Like Democrats, Ryan wants legalization before border security, an approach that failed in both 1986 and 1996. As recently as 2006, Congress was again unsuccessful achieving border security when it passed a law that would have built hundreds of miles of fence, but only built thirty-six.

Nevertheless, Ryan recommends that illegal aliens be given immediate "probationary non-immigrant work visas." He asserts that their probation can be revoked and they can be deported if they do not pay an initial fine or their taxes, do not learn English and civics or commit one felony or an unspecified number of misdemeanors.

Unfortunately, Congress does not have the authority to deport anyone. It is an executive branch responsibility to enforce the law and the Obama administration has demonstrated less desire to do so than any administration in recent history.

Furthermore, all of Ryan's proposed probationary requirements were already in the 1986 bill, a law which is still not enforced to this day.

Ryan boasts that, simultaneous with legalization, Congress will monitor metrics measuring
border security including the number of fences, border control agents and detentions. The law would also establish nationwide "eVerify," an Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. If the metrics do not reach certain standards in five years, all illegal aliens will remain in probationary status and not attain full citizenship.

Unfortunately, the metrics described by Ryan are largely measurements of spending, not the effectiveness of border security. And, if the metrics are not met, we will still have the same number of illegal aliens, plus at least 4.8 million more over ten years as predicted by the Congressional Budget Office's evaluation of the Senate immigration bill.

As Ann Coulter noted, the Democrats' motive for comprehensive immigration reform is unabashedly ruthless, millions of new Democratic voters guaranteeing a permanent Democratic one-party state.

The motives of Ryan and his fellow travelers are less coherent, if not stupid. Maybe Ryan is taking the same route to political suicide as Marco Rubio (R-FL) did in the Senate's "Gang of Eight" immigration bill. Conservative HQ claims that Ryan has a "penchant for granting the kind of deference to the interests of the establishment Republican Party's corporate paymasters," which include the "shills for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the cheap labor opportunists and the inside-the-Beltway party hacks of the 'buy the Hispanic vote' wing of the Republican Party."
Sounds about right to me.

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. Email him at