Paul Ryan, a man who has defiled two perfectly fine first names for people everywhere, told reporters on Thursday that he is not comfortable with the practice of tearing immigrant children away from their parents at the border. “We don’t want kids to be separated from their parents,” Ryan said, a practice for which he put the blame on a court ruling, rather than Donald Trump’s administration.
“This is because of a court ruling,” Ryan said. “We believe it should be addressed in immigration legislation. So what’s happening at the border with the separation of their parents and their children is because of a court ruling, and so that’s why I think legislation is necessary.”
But as Elise Foley explains at HuffPost, the 1997 court decision that Ryan is referring to “bars the government from detaining children for long periods, including with their parents.” This means that it is only relevant in the fact that the Trump administration “would rather split up families than allow them to be released from detention while their cases go through the courts.”
So to clarify: Paul Ryan is not against separating children from their parents, he is just saying that he is. If Ryan actually was against the practice in any way, he could, I don’t know, actually spit out Jeff Sessions’ name and push him to reverse his policy of criminally prosecuting parents and separating them from their children at the border.
Another option—call it a Congressional fix, which would firmly fall within the wheelhouse of the Speaker of the House—would be to put forward stand-alone legislation to address the issue. But instead, Ryan has decided to hold a vote on conservative immigration bills next week in order to quell an uprising from moderates in his own party who wanted to push a vote on more bipartisan DACA bills. Ryan told reporters that he wouldn’t “guarantee passage” on next week’s votes and that they are really just a way “to give members the ability to express their positions.” Even if one of those bills does include language limiting family separation—which looks like will happen—it would also include hard-line conservative priorities, like border wall funding, making it a non-starter for most Democrats.
And none of this changes the fact that Trump’s real plan, as Foley explains, “isn’t to let kids live outside detention rather than split them from their parents: It’s to keep them all locked up together, potentially for months or even years.” Separating families is atrocious, but so is family detention.
So Ryan can proclaim any old thing he wants. But it doesn’t make it true.