Former Republican Vice Presidential nominee and WI Congressman Paul Ryan faced a group of immigration activists, immigrants and children of illegal immigrants in a townhall meeting in Racine, WI.

He seemed to stress that this isn’t about immigration per se, but instead addressing illegal immigration, the activity that so many on the left would like to excuse and reward:

“Immigration is a good thing for this country. It is this country,” Ryan told more than 300 people who attended the town hall meeting at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.

Absolutely.  We are indeed a nation of immigrants, including those who now like to call themselves Native Americans.  Immigrants have built this nation, have added to its rich heritage and have proven that a “melting pot” can indeed produce a vibrant nation that is a world leader.

But this country is also a nation of laws.  And our laws outline how legal immigration is to be pursued.  No one questions the need for the reform of those laws.  But that doesn’t excuse scofflaws and those who refuse to abide by our laws.  That is one major focuses for reforming immigration laws.

Ryan pointed out that the House had different ideas on how to address the immigration debate than the Democratically controlled Senate:

“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 about five or six bills…to fix these problems in our immigration laws one step at a time in a comprehensive way.”

Ryan said negotiations are underway to bring “these various bills to the floor of Congress.”

“Tentatively, October, we’re going to vote on these bills,” Ryan said. “We’re going to vote on a border security bill, we’re going to vote on an interior enforcement bill, like the workplace verification and the visa tracking. We’re going to vote on a legal immigration bill for visas, for agricultural workers, for skilled workers.”

Ryan says the House is going to be looking at a number of bills addressing particular parts of the immigration problem instead of one giant “comprehensive” bill.  However the aim, it appears, is to pass a form of “comprehensive” reform through those various bills addressing those different parts.  We’ve seen how these giant 2,000 page bills no one can read, much less comprehend, work in the past – see ObamaCare.  On its face then, the House’s approach seems much more sane and manageable than that of the Senate.

On addressing THE question, Ryan bowed to a bit of political correctness:

Ryan also said, “We’re going to vote on a bill to legalize 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, two years longer than the Senate version of immigration reform. But they would be eligible to receive a “probationary visa” Ryan said.

“We want to give people an ability to come out of the shadows and get themselves right with the law,” he said.

So amnesty is indeed a feature of the approach of both parties.  Of course, we did this once before and were told it was a one-time deal.  Yet here we are again.

Some argue that we really don’t need new laws for illegal immigration but only a federal government that will do it’s sworn duty and enforce the existing laws.  There is definitely truth to that argument.  But we also need to address and streamline the path to citizenship for those who do it properly and legally.  If we are going to permit a path to citizenship for those who came here illegally, and it seems we are, it shouldn’t be either shorter or easier than those who applied legally.  In fact it should be anything but that.  If it takes 15 years for an illegal immigrant to finally win citizenship, we should put in place a system that rewards legal immigrants with citizenship much sooner – say 7 to 10 years.   Human nature 101 tells us that people respond positively to incentive.  That sort of incentive would likely see potential immigrants who were indeed interested in becoming citizens choose the proper path for achieving that.

That said, we also need to see border security properly addressed, the guest worker and agricultural worker programs streamlined and our immigration policy join the 21st Century (and use 21st Century technology as a means to address these problems and achieve solutions).

Despite his politically correctness, it seems as though Paul Ryan is mostly headed in the right direction concerning this problem:

“We want to make sure we’re fair to the legal immigrant,” he said. “We want to make sure the law does not reward people for quote, unquote, cutting in line. We want to make sure that that person who came here legally in the first place who waited patiently, that they’re respected by being at the front of the line.”

Ryan added, “So, yes, it may be difficult and it might take 15 years for a person to get right. But I think that’s a pretty good deal given that we have all these undocumented Americans.”

Actually, it’s a better deal than they deserve, and like it or not,  it seems that amnesty is indeed going to be a feature of whatever comes out of Congress when immigration is finally settled.

~McQ