Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, appearing today alongside Chicago Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez, said the terrorism events at the Boston Marathon last week have not and should not deter work on immigration reform.
After an appearance at the City Club of Chicago, both men told reporters that despite the fatal bombing and subsequent efforts to capture the suspects, work continued in Washington throughout the week on drafting a proposal.
“If anything, this is an argument for modernizing our immigration laws. We need it for national security reasons. We need it for the economy,” said Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee.
“It’s premature to make any kind of a judgment as to the outcome of this. We just don’t know all of the facts. So the last thing we ought to do is make some kind of knee-jerk assessment as to how this affects some other bill in Congress,” Ryan said.
Gutierrez said the federal government spends $18 billion a year on immigration enforcement — more than is spent on the FBI or on other enforcement agencies.
The Democrat contended a comprehensive immigration reform plan, including employer verification and reviewing the status of those whose temporary visas or work permits run out, would allow the money to “got after the truly bad guys.”
While the House version of immigration reform has yet to be drafted, Ryan said the fact that Republicans and Democrats are working together on legislation could, for a public distrustful of Congress, provide “an opportunity to prove that divided government can work.”
“I really believe that we have an opportunity to have a real long-term solution and I’m not talking some quick fix,” Ryan told an audience of about 300 people. “I’m talking an enduring system that works, that honors the rule of law, that honors the faith of the immigration system.”
Ryan also said there was a value argument to be made for immigration reform.
“We do not want to have a society where we have different classes of people who cannot reach their American dream by not being a full citizen,” he said. “That is a very important part of immigration reform.”