Paul Ryan flip-flops on immigration stance, agrees that American taxpayers are paying for President Trump's border wall

The House Speaker, who once supported immigration reform, is now on board as Trump sours the U.S.-Mexico alliance

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published January 26, 2017 2:20PM (EST)

Paul Ryan   (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)
Paul Ryan (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

President Donald Trump has already gotten his party's most powerful non-executive figure, House Speaker Paul Ryan, singing his tune on the issue of immigration — regardless of what that will do to America's relationship with Mexico.

"We're going to pay for it and front the money up," Ryan told MSNBC's Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday night. He later added that "there are a lot of different ways of getting Mexico to contribute to doing this . . . We will be working with [Trump] to finance construction of a physical barrier, including the wall, on the southern border."

Ryan later confirmed that the cost would be $8 billion to $14 billion.

On Thursday, Ryan said that the wall would cost between $12 billion and $15 billion, but said that the cost would be offset by "spending cuts."

In 2013, he voted against $9.7 billion in relief for Hurricane Sandy victims.

Ryan's new hardline immigration stance constitutes a major policy shift. Last April, he told 500 Georgetown University students, "I’m a person who believes that for the undocumented, we have to come up with a solution that doesn’t involve mass deportation, that involves giving people the ability to get right with the law, to come in and earn a legal status while we fix the rest of legal immigration."

Trump's new anti-Mexican policies are being greeted with unsurprising dismay across the border. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto declared on Wednesday night that he "regrets and rejects" Trump's executive orders, reiterated that "Mexico will not pay for any wall," and reassured Mexicans living in the United States that "where there is a Mexican migrant at risk that requires our support, your country should be there."

The Mexican president is also reportedly thinking of canceling his Tuesday meeting with President Trump, which he is being urged to do by a broad spectrum of politicians within his own country.

Paul Ryan tells @greta “we're going to pay for” Trump's wall, confirms est. cost $8-14 billion; says lot of ways to get Mexico to contribute

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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