On Tuesday, the House speaker expressed tentative support for the Trump administration’s quest to rescind DACA. In a statement, he reiterated his long-standing belief that DACA violates the U.S. Constitution and added:
Congress writes laws, not the president, and ending this program fulfills a promise that President Trump made to restore the proper role of the executive and legislative branches. But now there is more to do, and the president has called on Congress to act. The president’s announcement does not revoke permits immediately, and it is important that those affected have clarity on how this interim period will be carried out.
Ryan added that he hoped Congress will reach a solution that protects “those who have done nothing wrong.” That seems unlikely, and thus Trump’s announcement forces Ryan into a difficult position. He has always equivocated on the issue, calling DACA unconstitutional while opposing its total repeal.
But a law that would please Trump, Jeff Sessions, and the more intransigent members of his own party could hurt Ryan, who’s up for re-election next year. DACA is an overwhelmingly popular program, even with Republicans; 69 percent of self-identified Republican voters recently told Morning Consult and Politico that Dreamers should be allowed to remain in the country. In Racine, Wisconsin—the heart of his district—Dreamers are on hunger strike right now.
In a conversation with the New Republic, Randy Bryce, who is running to challenge Ryan in the 2018 midterms, called the statement an “abundance of absolutely nothing.” “It’s typical Paul Ryan,” he said. “It started off when he first heard about Trump doing something on DACA; now that he’s fighting for his political career he came out seemingly in defense of Dreamers. I thought he would show some backbone, but apparently not.”
The Racine Dreamers, he added, are about to march through the city in protest. “As soon as I get off the phone, I’m headed directly toward that,” he said.