Paul Ryan has emerged as an unexpected ally in the push for immigration reform. Appearing at a forum to push the bill forward on Monday Ryan provided a context for his interest in the issue.
According to the Huffington Post, he pulled out his iPhone and showed it to co-panelist Doug Holtz-Eakin and moderator John Harwood of CNBC.
'I come from Irish peasants who came over during the potato famine,' Ryan said. 'And this is a poster, I have it on my iPhone here, that was put on the ships by the Irish government for the Irish immigrants coming over in the 1850s. It says, 'Advice to Irish immigrants.'
Ryan then reportedly read the 128-word message, which included the following passages:
'In the United States, labor is there the first condition of life, and industry is the lot of all men. Wealth is not idolized, but there is no degradation connected with labour; on the contrary, it is honorable, and held in general estimation. In the remote parts of America, an industrious youth may follow any occupation without being looked down upon or sustain loss of character, and he may rationally expect to raise himself in the world by his labor.
'In America, a man's success must altogether rest with himself. It will depend on his industry, sobriety, diligence and virtue; and if he do not succeed, in nine cases out of ten, the cause of the failure is to be found in the deficiencies of his own character.'
Ryan added that the poster's message demonstrated the spirit that was drawing new immigrants to the U.S. today.
'This is the American idea. That's the melting pot. That's what people came then and now for. This is something that is in absolute keeping of our principles of our party and our country, and that's why people like me are supporting immigration reform,' Ryan said.
But in fact the GOP is broadly split over the issue immigration reform. Groups like The Heritage Foundation have released their own studies that granting new immigrants visa will lead to increased strain on welfare and social services, based on their assumption that immigrants are lazy and will not work, preferring instead rely on government benefits.
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