Immigration reform has languished in Congress since the Senate passed its sweeping bill in June. But now Republican Congressman Paul Ryan has hinted that there will be some action on immigration in the House come October.
Ryan, the House Budget Committee Chairman, hinted at an immigration timetable at a district town hall in his home state of Wisconsin. The former vice presidential candidate said that the House is tentatively scheduled to start voting on immigration bills in October.
“Tentatively, in October, we’re going to vote on these bills,” Ryan told immigrant activists and undocumented immigrants at the town hall according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He continued to outline exactly what type of bills the House would be looking at, mentioning that the goal was to bring five or six bills forward to deal with reform.
“We’re going to vote on a border security bill, we’re going to vote on an interior enforcement bill, like the workplace verification and the visa tracking. We’re going to vote on a legal immigration bill for visas, for agricultural workers, for skilled workers,” he said.
Congress leaves Washington for the entire month of August. The chamber is only in session for nine days in September, during which it will have to deal with spending bills to avoid a government shutdown.
At the town hall, Ryan described a plan for undocumented immigrants. He said that they would have to wait 15 years at minimum before they get citizenship. Then they would be able to receive a probationary visa.
“We want to give people an ability to come out of the shadows and get themselves right with the law,” he said.
The Wisconsin Republican has played a key role in pushing comprehensive immigration reform behind the scenes. At a special immigration meeting of House Republicans earlier this month, Ryan made the case with members of his party to find support for a path to citizenship.
Ryan was also asked by an audience member to respond to Steve King’s controversial comments on Dreamers. Earlier this week, King compared young undocumented immigrants to drug mules. In an interview with the conservative web site Newsmax, King expressed skepticism about providing a path to citizenship for Dreamers, saying not all of them are valedictorians.
“For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” King added. “Those people would be legalized with the same act.”
Ryan, like many of his fellow top Republicans, condemned King’s remarks.
“Representative King’s remarks, I disagree with, I disavow, and they’re wrong,” he responded to the majority Latino audience.
As Ryan held his town hall in Milwaukee, legislators across the country continued distancing themselves from King and continuing to push for reform.
Two Democratic senators, Sens. Tom Harkin and Dick Durbin, are set to hold an immigration forum in the home district of none other than Rep. Steve King. The forum will feature Iowan immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.
Speaker John Boehner called the Iowa Republican out in his weekly Capitol press conference on Thursday, saying that his remarks made reform more difficult. King responded by saying that Boehner “should not speak” on the issue.
“Nobody has come out and said it’s up higher or lower, it’s 101 or 99,” he said. “So then, I either had the wrong number or I picked the wrong fruit.”