Ryan: Immigration Reform Not a Matter of 'If' But 'When'

Image: Ryan: Immigration Reform Not a Matter of 'If' But 'When'

Wednesday, 26 Mar 2014 01:12 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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It's not a matter of "if" the nation's immigration system undergoes massive reform, it's "when," Republican Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan told Latino business leaders, and GOP lawmakers have ideas for how to do it.

The 2012 vice presidential candidate, who attended an event hosted by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, along with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Florida Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, said, "We've got a broken system that needs fixing, and we have ideas on how to fix it," The Huffington Post reports.

Ryan and Diaz-Balart agree that reforms should come soon, disagreeing with some fellow Republicans who are concerned that reforms could make it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens.

"Please know that we understand the value of immigration," Ryan told the crowd, Politco reported. "We know its importance, we know its roots, its history here in America, and we have ideas on how to make this go forward and make it work so that we do have the rule of law so that we do have reform, so that we’re not in the same position 15 years down the road."

Further, there are some who want to delay reforms until President Barack Obama leaves the White House. House Speaker John Boehner told a Feb. 6 news conference, "There's widespread doubt that this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws, and it's going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes."

Ryan has also previously stated that it would be difficult to get reform through the House this year, but on Wednesday pointed to the House GOP leadership's principles for reform, released during the annual GOP retreat in Maryland earlier this year.

Diaz-Balart called immigration reform "the 800-pound gorilla" in the room, reports The Huffington Post, because lawmakers know there is a problem but can't agree on a solution. However, he told the business leaders he is sure reform is coming.

"I am absolutely convinced that finally we will be able to solve that issue that people thought was unsolvable, but that we know that we can do because we have the legislative language," he said. "With your help, we can get this done."

Priebus is attempting to win over Latino voters who supported Democrats in the 2012 election, helping lead to President Barack Obama's victory. He told those at the meeting that reform is important to the party's growth and to improving the economy.

"As a nation of immigrants, we need to find common ground on immigration reform," Priebus said. "This is a problem that doesn't have easy solutions, but Republicans agree that the system is broken, that's No. 1. No. 2, we believe that we have to do something. The only question is how are we going to do it."

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