Tim Ryan, Ohio’s Democratic nominee for Senate, has called for border security on the campaign trail, but just three years ago he pledged to strip funding from border authorities and support citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants.
In 2019, when Ryan was running for the Democratic presidential nomination, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asked presidential candidates to pledge their support for several specific policies regarding illegal immigration.
Ryan agreed to support a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants. He also pledged to slash the detention budget of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and end the use of ICE detainers, his answers to the ACLU questionnaire show.
The ACLU asked whether Ryan would promise to “champion legislation” that would provide “fair and achievable paths to citizenship” for 11 million illegal immigrants. Ryan checked “yes.”
“They are our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends, our family members,” the ACLU questionnaire said. “As long as we prevent these individuals from becoming citizens, we are institutionalizing a permanent underclass, primarily Latino, Asian, and Black, living and working in the U.S. but often unable or afraid to assert their civil and constitutional rights.”
The ACLU also asked whether Ryan would “commit to ending the use of ICE detainers,” which are requests from ICE to state or local law enforcement to detain an illegal immigrant until federal immigration authorities can take them into custody. Ryan indicated he would commit to doing so.
Ryan also took the ACLU pledge committing to reducing the size of the immigration detention system by “at least 75%,” including by “cutting ICE’s detention budget” and ending the detention of asylum seekers.
Over the course of his Senate campaign, Ryan has called for better security at the porous U.S.-Mexico border.
“On some of the border stuff, I think he’s made some big mistakes,” Ryan said in September of President Joe Biden’s approach to the border.
“We’ve got to be firmer on the border,” the Ohio congressman said.
In May, Ryan held a joint briefing to discuss border security with several fellow members of the Bipartisan Border Security Technology Caucus.
“In 2021 alone, we know nearly two million unauthorized migrants came across the Mexican border. This calendar year is on pace to repeat those same numbers,” Ryan said during the briefing.
“There’s eight billion people in the world and a lot of them want to live in the United States, so we need to make sure that we have an orderly process on how we let people into this country,” Ryan said.
Border authorities encountered more than two million migrants at the border in fiscal year 2022, according to data released last month from Customs and Border Protection. Some of those encounters were people who repeatedly tried to cross the U.S. border.
In September, border authorities encountered nearly 228,000 migrants, up 12% from August, partly due to people fleeing failing regimes in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua.
Ryan faces Republican candidate J.D. Vance in the general election on November 8.
Vance has run on a platform of strong border security that includes no amnesty for illegal immigrants, doubling the number of border agents, and working to finish construction of a border wall.