Key Republican Congressman Paul Ryan has pledged his support for the 50,000 Undocumented Irish currently in the United States as work for Immigration Reform continues

Key Republican Paul Ryan comes out swinging for immigration reform at Irish  event

Republican Congressman Paul Ryan at the breakfast hosted by the Irish Immigration Reform Committee at the National Republican Club of Capitol Hill. Photograph: Jay Premack/The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform
Republican  Congressman Paul Ryan at breakfast hosted by the Irish Immigration Reform   close to Capitol Hill. (Credit: Jay  Premack/ILIR)

Congressman  Paul Ryan, the former Vice Presidential candidate and a likely GOP  presidential front runner in 2016, has come out swinging on the need for  immigration reform.
Maybe it was the Irish hurling stick that the Irish  Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) president Ciaran Staunton gave him in  honor of his Kilkenny ancestors that did the trick, but Ryan made a firm promise  to Irish Americans present at an ILIR Republican congressional breakfast on  Wednesday that he would do his utmost to deliver immigration reform.  IrishCentral also co-hosted the breakfast.
While other Republicans have  been running away from the issue Ryan is embracing it and given his clout in the  party he certainly can have a huge impact.
Ryan stated that immigration  was definitely on “the to-do list” for House Republicans this fall, probably  right after the budget crisis is dealt with.
“It’s going to be one of  those legislative processes that is going to take some work. There are those of  us who are very much dedicated to doing this,” he stated.
In person Ryan  is impressive. He had no handlers, strode into the breakfast room at the  Republican Capitol Hill Club and had a friendly word for everyone. He was one of  seven key GOP Congressmen who attended and was this year’s honoree.
Also  present was new Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Anne  Anderson and about seventy Irish American community leaders from key states.  Former Congressman Jim Walsh was also involved in bringing the GOP congressmen  to the event.
Once up on stage Ryan, 44, made clear his affinity to his  heritage, tracing his family roots from Kilkenny and the journey over to  Wisconsin. He quoted extensively from a Famine ship document which warned the  immigrants what to expect in America and to work hard.
Ryan rekindled  hope that the GOP house will actually turn to this issue as one of the few where  they can agree a way forward with Democrats. After weeks of bad news about how  the issue was being utterly overshadowed by the budget mess that was good news  indeed.
The poise and easy charm that Ryan has makes him a formidable  political operator. He was also clearly on top of his brief, not always the case  with politicians and immigration.
Afterwards the Irish contingent retired  for a bull session to discuss the best way to push for reform. There was a  dramatic moment when a young illegal Irish woman spoke up about how difficult  her life was in America in her current status. Suddenly for everyone the issue  was more than an abstract problem affecting someone else. The impact was there  right in front of us.
I sense a far more united Irish community and Irish  government approach this go round on immigration reform. The Ryan news was a  welcome boost but much more needs to be done. I think there is great commitment  among the Irish this time to get it done and hopefully they  will.

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