House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told millennials that a lack of border security, drug cartel activity and ISIS are among the reasons many Republicans and their constituents oppose illegal immigration.
Ryan said those issues must be dealt with before immigration reform is passed by Congress.
“I just can’t understate how concerned people are about national security — how concerned people are about the fact that the borders are not being secured. This is about heroin and opioid. This is about ISIS. This is not about a demographic. It’s not about Latinos. It’s not at all about that,” said Ryan during a millennial town hall at Georgetown University. “It is about the rule of law. It is about this country knowing who is coming and who is going and then getting these laws right so they work.”
Ryan said immigration reform is not going to happen this year because President Obama decided to go around Congress with executive actions on immigration, which “poisoned the well and sent us into a court battle.”
“Don’t forget the rule of law and security is paramount to have that first as a confidence-building measure so people really believe the laws will be enforced so when we really do immigration reform it’s lasting,” he said.
Ryan acknowledged the immigration system is “fundamentally broken” because the U.S. does not know who is entering the U.S.
“We don’t know who is coming and going in this country, and in a day of heroin and ISIS and drug cartels it’s a real threat to our national security,” he said. “We’re in the middle of writing all this opioid legislation because of this problem coming from our borders. And if we can fix the root cause of fixing our immigration laws, and I’m a person who believes the undocumented – we have to come up with a solution that doesn’t involve mass deportation, that involves giving people the ability to get right with the law, to come and earn a legal status while we fix the rest of legal immigration.”
A Georgetown University graduate student asked Ryan what the GOP plans to do about student loan debt. She mentioned that Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Hillary Clinton have focused on the issue during the campaign.
“I would be weary of empty promises that aren’t paid for, just saying,” Ryan responded.
Ryan pointed to inflation and the rising cost of tuition.
“What we have found is when the government pumps more money in the system then the college winds up cranking up the price and sticking you with the debt,” he said.
The former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said there has to be more competition among schools and in student lending.
Ryan also said it was wrong for President Obama to “nationalize” the student loan industry in 2010.
“Now we are on the hook as taxpayers for about $1 trillion of debt and default rates are through the roof,” he said.