Paul Ryan in Farewell Speech Calls on Congress to Fix ‘Broken’ Immigration System, Modernize Visa System

By Melanie Arter | December 19, 2018 | 10:36pm EST
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) (Screenshot)

( – In his farewell speech Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called for Congress to fix the “broken immigration system” and modernize the country’s visa system.

“We have to fix our broken immigration system. Right now, we are again locked in another short-term battle over one aspect of this issue, and no matter what the outcome is, in the coming days, the larger problem will remain. The system will be in need of serious reform, and no less than our full potential as a nation here is at stake, but the right mix of policy solutions, it’s there,” Ryan said.

“Border security and interior enforcement for starters, but also a modernization of our visa system, so that it makes sense for our economy and for our people so that anyone who wants to play by the rules, work hard and be a part of our American fabric can contribute. That includes the Dreamers – those who came here through no fault of their own – and ultimately, the undocumented population,” he said.


Ryan called for Congress to “reset” the immigration system and “get people right with the law.”

“In order to fix the system, you have to reset the system. In order to truly enforce the law, you have to get people right with the law. Again, we came closer in this Congress than people realize, and next year, the Supreme Court will make a ruling, and then both parties can and should go back to the table,” the speaker said.

“Getting this right is an economic and moral imperative, and it would go a long way toward taking some of the venom out of our discourse,” he said.

Ryan said if Congress makes progress on poverty, fixes the immigration system, and confronts the debt crisis, “we can make this another great century for our country.”

Ryan also called for Congress to rise above division.

“Too often genuine disagreement quickly gives way to intense distrust. We spend far more time trying to convict one another than we do trying to develop our own convictions. Being against someone has more currency than being for anything, and each of us … has found ourselves operating on the wrong side of this equation from time to time, and all of this gets amplified by technology. With an incentive structure that preys on people’s fears and algorithms that play on anger, outrages become a brand,” he said.

“And as with anything that gets marketed, it gets scaled up. It becomes more industrialized, more cold, more unfeeling. And that’s the thing, for all the noise, there is actually less passion, less energy. We sort of default to lazy litmus tests and shop-worn denunciations. It’s just emotional pablum fed through a trough of outrage. It’s exhausting. It saps meaning from our politics, and it discourages good people from pursuing public service,” Ryan said.

“The symptoms of it are in our face all the time, and we have to recognize that its roots run deep … into our culture and deep into our society today, and all of this pulls on the threads of our common humanity and what could be our unraveling, but nothing, nothing says it has to be this way,” the speaker said.

“We all struggle. We are all fighting some battle in our lives, so why do we insist on fighting each other so bitterly? This kind of politics comes from a place of outrage and then seeks to tear us down from there. So key question: how do we get back to aspiration and inclusion? We start with humility, and then we seek to build on that,” he said.


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