Paul Ryan singled out a particularly venomous source of political polarization

Leaving the scene.
Leaving the scene.
Image: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
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Paul Ryan, who is stepping down as US House Speaker, is leaving a to-do list for his congressional colleagues. Near the top: fixing the US immigration system.

In his farewell speech Wednesday (Dec. 19), the Republican politician said reworking the country’s immigration laws, both for immigrants who arrive with and without papers, is “an economic and moral imperative.” It would also improve the dysfunctional working relationship between Republicans and Democrats in Congress, he added.

“It would go a long way toward taking some of the venom out of our discourse,” he said.

Congress has been fighting over how the US should treat immigrants for years. Earlier this year, a group of bipartisan lawmakers hammered out a compromise (paywall) that would offer a path to citizenship for “Dreamers”— immigrants who came to the US illegally as children—and bulk up border security. “We came closer in this Congress than people realize,” said Ryan.

He said lawmakers still have to tackle those issues, in addition to the visa system and the million of immigrants living in the US illegally, all issues where the political divide is wide. But Ryan believes the differences are not insurmountable. “Our problems are solvable, if our politics will allow,” he said.

That’s a big if.