(CNSNews.com) – Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said he would “debate anybody” who claims that the House immigration reform bill constitutes amnesty for illegal aliens, a challenge that has been answered by the conservative Heritage Foundation and popular conservative talk-radio host Mark Levin.
Ryan staunchly supports the House legislation that, in many ways, echoes the “Gang of 8” bill in the Senate. But Ryan says the House version would not grant amnesty to the estimated 11 million illegal aliens in the United States.
On June 12, Ryan spoke at the National Association of Manufacturers about the legislation. “Earned legalization is not amnesty,” he said. "I will debate anybody who tries to suggest that these ideas that are moving through Congress are amnesty. They're not. Amnesty is wiping the slate clean and not paying any penalty for having done something wrong."
The next day, Michael A. Needhan, chief executive officer of Heritage Action for America, the political action wing of the Heritage Foundation, wrote on the organization’s blog a post entitled, “Sorry Chairman Ryan, It Is Amnesty.”
Needham said, "Chairman Ryan offered to 'debate anybody who tries to suggest that these ideas that are moving through Congress are amnesty.' That is a conversation we would welcome."
Meanwhile, talk-radio host Mark Levin also would like to see a public debate over the issue of immigration reform between conservatives who oppose the current legislation on one side versus Republican Party leaders who support the legislation.
Levin, according to The American Spectator, has suggested that the conservative side be represented by Heather Mac Donald, an immigration scholar with the Manhattan Institute ; former Attorney General Edwin Meese; and either Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) or Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).
On the other side, defending the legislation, Levin has suggested Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), former Florida GOP Gov. Jeb Bush, and New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie.
Jeb Bush, brother of former President George W. Bush, supports the “Gang of 8” bill in the Senate. Last Friday, speaking at a Faith & Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, D.C., he said, “The one way we can rebuild the demographic pyramid is to fix a broken immigration system to allow for people to come, to learning English, to play by our rules, to embrace our values and to pursue their dreams in our country with a vengeance to create more opportunities for all of us.”
“This is a conservative idea and, if we do this, we will rebuild our country in a way that will allow us to grow,” he said. “If we don’t do it, if we don't do it, we will be in decline.”
Senator Sessions opposes the current legislation and wrote in a recent commentary, “The so-called Gang of Eight immigration plan now being considered by the Senate fails to live up to every major promise made by its sponsors. Far from improving the immigration system, their 1,000-page proposal would exacerbate many of its flaws. … The sponsors promised that the bill would not significantly increase legal immigration. However, it will grant legal status to at least 30 million immigrants over the next 10 years if you add up the proposed surge in legal arrivals, approval of 4.5 million previous green card applicants, plus work authorization and legal residency for an estimated 11 million here unlawfully today.”
“And, despite promised protections for U.S. workers, the bill would double the number of guest workers admitted annually,” wrote Sessions. “Such a large influx would be disastrous for the wages and job prospects of U.S. workers.
“On every major front, this legislation fails to deliver on its core promises. It delivers only for the special-interest groups who helped write it. Should it pass, it would represent the ultimate triumph of the Washington elite over the everyday citizen to whom Congress properly owes its loyalty.”