POLITICS

Ryan supports legal status for undocumented immigrants, but doesn't trust White House

In this photo taken June 9, 2015, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., answers questions during an interview with The Associated Press in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington. First, give presidents the power to strike trade deals. Then overturn President Barack Obama’s health care law, overhaul the tax code and reform welfare. And someday? Figure out whether to run for president. Call it the New Ryan Plan, a map not just to big changes in the nation’s fiscal policy, but to Paul Ryan’s future. It points the ninth-term congressman and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee away from the presidential campaign trail and into the thicket of policy that he says will set the country on better financial footing. The path likely emerges at a familiar decision point _ whether to run for president _ somewhere down the road. Ryan, 45, says he might decide to take that step, someday. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)

In this photo taken June 9, 2015, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., answers questions during an interview with The Associated Press in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington. First, give presidents the power to strike trade deals. Then overturn President Barack Obama’s health care law, overhaul the tax code and reform welfare. And someday? Figure out whether to run for president. Call it the New Ryan Plan, a map not just to big changes in the nation’s fiscal policy, but to Paul Ryan’s future. It points the ninth-term congressman and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee away from the presidential campaign trail and into the thicket of policy that he says will set the country on better financial footing. The path likely emerges at a familiar decision point _ whether to run for president _ somewhere down the road. Ryan, 45, says he might decide to take that step, someday. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)

House Speaker Paul Ryan says he’s leery of trying to work on immigration reform with President Barack Obama, whom conservatives do not trust to be strong on border security.

But the speaker, a Wisconsin Republican, stressed in a 60 Minutes interview that he remains supportive of an immigration measure that would offer undocumented immigrants a path to legal status, though not U.S. citizenship.

“It starts with border enforcement,” he said on the program. “It starts with enforcing the rule of law. But you need to have a vibrant, legal immigration system. Legal immigration is America. 

"I think you could have a pathway to legal status," he said. "That's been what I have proposed in the past — a way to make amends with the law, effectively go on probation and earn your way to legal status, but not to citizenship."

Ryan supported the 2013 bipartisan Senate bill that called for tightening enforcement and at the same time offered reprieve to some of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants who already are living in the United States.

Shortly after he became speaker, he made clear his lack of trust in Obama, citing the common conservative view of the president as being overzealous and making end-runs around Congress on immigration through his executive orders.

“Look, I think it would be a ridiculous notion to try and work on an issue like this with a president we simply cannot trust on this issue,” said Ryan, in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” last month. “He tried to go it alone, circumventing the legislative process with his executive orders, so that is not in the cards.”

He repeated that on Sunday, saying that while he is open to working with the Obama administration on issues on which they can find common ground, "On this particular issue, he tried to go around Congress and write the law unilaterally."

Ryan also balked at GOP presidential contender Donald Trump’s call for rounding up all undocumented immigrants and deporting them. Ryan said it just is not feasible when asked if he would go along with that approach.

“I can’t imagine how it could happen. So no.”

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