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Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, holds up a pint of Guinness as he proposes a toast during the Friends of Ireland luncheon at the United States Capitol March 15, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Edelman-Pool/Getty Images)

After Enabling Trump's Anti-Immigration Policies, Paul Ryan Makes Exception for Immigrants From His Own Homeland

The House Speaker, who has said he hopes to become a U.S. ambassador to Ireland one day, pushed through a bill to give work visas to Irish nationals

Julia Conley

After spending much of the past two years enabling President Donald Trump's hard-line immigration policy and blocking the House from voting on bipartisan legislation to protect young immigrants, outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) is showing recent enthusiasm for welcoming a select group of immigrants—not the thousands of Central Americans who are in a camp in Tijuana, Mexico, waiting to seek asylum in the U.S., but people from his family's own homeland.

Ryan pushed through a bill that passed in the House late last month, giving thousands of E-3 work visas to Irish nationals. The bill is expected to pass in the Senate this week.

In his last weeks in power, Ryan is supporting the legislation while the Trump administration is turning away hundreds of asylum seekers from countries including Guatemala and Honduras per day and deporting the U.S.-based family sponsors of unaccompanied migrant children. The House Speaker also blocked representatives from voting on a bill to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, many of whom have lived, gone to school, and worked in the U.S. for years.

E-3 visas are currently available only to Australians with certain occupations, but under the proposal, thousands of unused visas would go to Irish nationals.

As Politico reported, Ryan's own ancestors came to the U.S. in the 1850s, fleeing the potato famine there. The House Speaker reportedly hopes to be appointed as U.S. ambassador to Ireland.

Ryan's support for the bill was denounced by critics on social media, including the Irish social justice podcast "Irish Stand."


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