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Paul Ryan Is Channeling Bill Clinton on Immigration

Sen. Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks at the 2013 annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to rally conservatives and generate ideas
Sen. Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks at the 2013 annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to rally conservatives and generate ideasPhotograph by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The most encouraging sign for proponents of immigration reform in the wake of the Boston Marathon attacks has been Paul Ryan’s emergence as a vocal supporter. Earlier this week the Wisconsin Republican congressman and former Mitt Romney running mate joined Democratic Representative Luis Gutierrez of Illinois at a pro-immigration rally in Chicago. Afterward, Ryan spoke at a luncheon at the City Club of Chicago. “If you work hard and play by the rules, you can get ahead—that is what the American idea is,” he said. “No matter what the condition of your birth, you can make yourself what you want to be. That is an incredible idea.”

Writing in the National Review, Robert Costa attributed Ryan’s emergence on the issue to the influence of Jack Kemp, the late New York congressman and 1996 GOP vice-presidential nominee for whom Ryan worked as a young aide. Kemp believed, as Ryan evidently does, that legal immigrants vitalize the economy.