House Speaker Paul Ryan said he supports allowing undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. without gaining citizenship, and that he doesn’t believe mass deportation, an idea promoted by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, is feasible.
Immigration “starts with border enforcement,” Ryan said in an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes” program that will air on Sunday, according to a transcript provided by the network. “It starts with enforcing the rule of law. But you need to have a vibrant, legal immigration system. I think you could have a pathway to legal status. Earn your way to legal status, but not to citizenship.”
When asked whether he advocated the deportation of some 11 million undocumented immigrants now estimated to be living in the U.S., the Republican from Wisconsin said, “I do not. I can’t imagine how it could happen. So no.”
Ryan, 45, who was chairman of the the House tax-writing panel before becoming the leader of the chamber in October, said he wants to reform and simplify the tax code. He favors reducing the number of tax brackets to two or three, cutting rates for companies to enhance job prospects, and changing how businesses are taxed on their international operations so that employers repatriate overseas earnings.
The stakes of moving forward are high, Ryan said. Failure means “the country stays on the path it is on, deep poverty, flat wages, working families falling behind, a wreck of national security, followed up by a debt crisis,” he said.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that social safety net programs, together with rising debt interest payments, will drive budget deficit to $1 trillion in 2025, compared with $485 billion in fiscal year 2014.
That’s why Ryan says lawmakers need to address entitlement spending and the nation’s budget deficits. “The good news on these issues is that if we reform them for the next generation now, we can guarantee that people in or near retirement don’t have any changes in their benefits,” he said.
To that end, Ryan said he supports raising the retirement age to help sustain Social Security and Medicare. “For younger people, when they age, we should change the retirement age to reflect longevity,” he said. “Just to make the program finances work.”
Ryan also said he thinks Congress and the Obama administration can find common ground on tax policy, funding the government, and highways. “Those are three things that will produce certainty in this economy in the next few months,” he said. “Let’s go do that.”