Former Republican VP candidate says immigration reform can be passed

Ryan tells Irish immigration advocates that agreeing new legislation ‘not the hard issue’

Former Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan said he feels that comprehensive immigration legislation can be passed that would include a new legal route for Irish immigrants to work in the US.

Speaking at an Irish immigration event for Republican members of the House of Representatives, Congressman Ryan from Wisconsin said they wanted to “take on” the issue of immigration reform this autumn.

A bipartisan Bill that would overhaul US immigration laws for the first time in a quarter-century has passed the Senate but stalled in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives where lawmakers have raised concerns about plans to put 11 million illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship.

Mr Ryan, Mitt Romney's running mate in last year's presidential elections, said immigration reform was on "the to-do list" for House Republicans this autumn after the row on the US debt limit. "It's going to be one of those legislative processes that is going to take some work. There are those of us who are very much dedicated to doing this," he told a breakfast on Capitol Hill sponsored by the Irish Immigration Reform Committee, news website IrishCentral and the Irish Voice newspaper.


Legislative process
"This issue is not the hard issue – there are many other issues that are much harder but we have to get through it and we simply have to get to the floor and make the case and get the legislative process moving."

Irish immigration groups are lobbying House Republicans to support legislation to legalise thousands of “undocumented” Irish and create a new “E3” visa to allow 10,500 Irish work legally in the country every year.

Mr Ryan told Irish supporters of reform he thought they had “something that Republicans and Democrats can agree with” despite a tough debate ahead in a “divided government”.

Ciaran Staunton, co-founder of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, said the Irish had “no line” through which to enter the US legally.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times