Just days after being sworn in, Speaker Paul Ryan is being called out by the White House for "pandering to the extreme right wing" of his party on the issue of immigration. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Ryan's comments on immigration reform on 1 November were "preposterous" and disappointing.
Ryan said that he has ruled out passing comprehensive immigration legislation before the 2016 election. The new Speaker said that President Barack Obama cannot be trusted after he went around Congress and took executive actions to stop the deportations of millions of undocumented immigrants, ABC News reported.
"The president has proven himself untrustworthy on this issue, because he tried to unilaterally rewrite the law himself. Presidents don't write laws. Congress does. The president's proven himself to be untrustworthy on this issue. I think if we reach consensus on something like border enforcement, interior security, that's one thing," Ryan told NBC's Chuck Todd on Meet the Press. "But I do not believe we should advance comprehensive immigration legislation with a president who's proven himself untrustworthy on the issue."
As The Washington Post noted, the 2013 bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill created by the Senate's Gang of Eight has been sitting in the Republican-controlled House for the last 29 months. The legislation has provisions for the very border security and interior security that Ryan mentioned in his comments. The bill, however, has not moved forward simply because House Republicans refuse to put it up for a vote.
In response, Earnest called Ryan's comment on Meet the Press as "ironic," saying Ryan supported an immigration bill but then failed to push for it to go up to vote in the House. Ryan's stance on immigration is a fairly new one, which he took up prior to becoming speaker. However, he worked behind the scenes in the House to promote the Gang of Eight bill as recently as last year, ABC News reported.
While he once embraced eventual citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US, he clarified his comments on 1 November. "Well, legal status is what I was talking about," he said. His office added that "earned legal status" could eventually lead to citizenship.