U.S. House Speaker Ryan rules out work with Obama on immigration

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said on Sunday it would be ridiculous to work with President Barack Obama on immigration policy reform, saying he cannot trust the president on the issue.

Republicans have fought Obama’s unilateral steps that bypassed a gridlocked Congress to try to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation.

Obama’s executive orders, announced last November but put on hold by the courts, would let up to 4.7 million illegal immigrants stay without threat of deportation. It was aimed mainly at helping 4.4 million people whose children are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.

About 270,000 people would be able to stay under the expansion of a 2012 program that offered deportation relief to people brought illegally to the United States as children, allowing them work.

“I think it would be a ridiculous notion to try and work on an issue like this with a president we simply cannot trust on this issue,” Ryan said in an interview aired on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

“He tried to go it alone, circumventing the legislative process with his executive orders so that is not in the cards. I think if we reach consensus on how best to achieve border and interior enforcement security, I think that’s fine,” Ryan added.

SLIDESHOW: Speaker of the House: Paul Ryan

In August, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it was unlikely comprehensive immigration reform could move through the current Congress, saying Obama’s executive actions thwarted any bipartisan overhaul.

McConnell said that Obama’s immigration changes made it “impossible” for this Congress to act but that lawmakers could act in the next Congress under a different president.

Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican congressman chosen as speaker on Thursday, also said that “it’s time we take some policy risks by showing the people what we really believe, who we are, and how we can fix this country’s great problems.”

He said “policy risks” he would take on in the House include tax code changes and replacing Obama’s 2010 healthcare law, widely known as Obamacare.

Congressional Republicans have held a series of votes since its passage trying unsuccessfully to repeal the law that aims to bring affordable medical insurance to people with no coverage. Republicans denounce the law as government overreach.

“I think we should say what Obamacare replacement looks like. People don’t like Obamacare,” Ryan said.

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Tom Heneghan)