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Paul Ryan Enters the Immigration Debate

Image: Paul Ryan Enters the Immigration Debate

By Courtney Coren   |   Tuesday, 23 Apr 2013 10:06 AM

The immigration reform effort now underway on Capitol Hill is expected to come at a big price, which apparently is why Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, has decided to jump right into the middle of it.

According to Politico, the Wisconsin Republican has met with Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois and Republican Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho in the past 10 days in an effort to move stalled talks on a bipartisan House measure, which have bogged down over border security issues, worker visas, and other elements.

Ryan’s role as Budget chairman is important in the immigration debate as the cost of the plan will come into play and his influence among GOP conservatives could be key in getting a bill passed in the House.

Ryan was in Chicago on Monday with Gutierrez at a local church and at a luncheon, where he spoke about immigration.

“If we have a modern immigration system that works, then what we will see is better economic growth and more tax revenues in totality at the end of the day,” Ryan said. “I think that’s the holistic view we have to take a look at when we’re measuring the cost of this bill.”

Ryan said that he wants to see a bill that covers border security, enforceable immigration laws, a “workable guest worker system,” a pathway to “earned legalization,” and an accelerated legalization path for immigrant children born in the United States.

While Ryan is not opposed to eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants, he argues the “first order of business is to secure the border and have necessary triggers that border security metrics are being met before we proceed with the rest of immigration reform.”

He also told the Chicago lunch crowd that immigrants created a quarter of the businesses started in 2011, a message that he hopes will help convince conservatives that reforming the immigration system is crucial to America's economic well-being.

“Businesses from immigrants generate about $775 billion in annual tax revenues,” he said, adding that immigration reform is key to making sure that "we have an economy that’s wired for the 21st century."

Ryan said the Senate bipartisan bill unveiled last week is a “very good step in the right direction,” but he suggested there would have to be some strong changes made to be accepted in the House.

For his part as a key Democratic negotiator, Gutierrez acknowledged that the House version of reform, likely to be released in May, will be more conservative than the Senate proposal.

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