House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) had some comforting advice for a trembling, undocumented Hispanic woman from Oklahoma standing before him Thursday night during a nationally televised CNN town hall meeting who is worried that he she will be deported after President-elect Donald Trump takes office Jan. 20.
With her young daughter at her side, Angelica Villalobos asked Ryan, “Do you think that I should be deported?” Although she currently is protected by an Obama administration policy for undocumented people who were brought to the U.S. illegally while they were children, her fear is that all bets will be off once Trump takes the reins and begins to make good on his early campaign pledge to deport millions of illegal immigrants.
Related: Paul Ryan Rejects Trump’s Plan to Deport 12 Million Illegal Immigrants
“No,” Ryan replied, “I can see that you love your daughter, that you’re a nice person that has a great future ahead of you, and I hope your future’s here. And so, what we have to do is find a way so that you can get right with the law, and we’ve got to do this in a good way so that the rug doesn’t get pulled out from under you and your family gets separated.”
Ryan, a one-time champion of major reform of immigration laws that would provide a legal pathway for many illegal immigrants to remain and work in the country, has had to straddle the issue since Trump roared to victory on his pledge to root out most of the 12 million undocumented workers and send many of them packing back to their countries of origin.
For instance, the Wisconsin Republican now says he’s fully in sync with the incoming administration on the need to tighten security along the southern border with Mexico, including building a wall to keep others from crossing into the U.S. He agrees with measures to tighten immigration rules and withdraw federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities, like San Francisco and New York that have created havens of security and employment for illegal immigrants and their families.
And he is fully on board with policies to step up the arrest and deportation of tens of thousands of dangerous, repeat felons, including some who have been responsible for the violent deaths of U.S. citizens.
But Ryan has publicly rejected Trump’s earlier calls for mass deportations and a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country until the U.S. gets a better handle on domestic terrorism. He also continues to hold out hope for compromise legislation that would provide legal status to many illegal immigrants, despite conservatives’ complaints that that would be tantamount to amnesty. He said he is working with Trump’s transition team to find a “good, humane solution” for the families protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has safeguarded Villalobos and many others until now.
Related: Trump Stands Alone Calling for Mass Deportation of Illegal Immigrants
Finally, Ryan has repeatedly doused Trump’s idea to assemble a large federal deportation task force that would swoop down and arrest and detain millions of immigrants – and in the process break up families.
Ryan said last night that while “everybody thinks” a federal deportation force is being assembled, “that’s not happening.”
“If you’re worried about some deportation force knocking on your door this year, don’t worry about that,” Ryan counseled Villalobos.