Rep. Paul Ryan encourages local "Dreamer," talks immigration reform

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Frank Schultz
Wednesday, March 19, 2014

JANESVILLE—Cindy Tellez is a “Dreamer” from Janesville. She talked about her dream to Rep. Paul Ryan on Wednesday. 

Ryan offered encouragement and said he hoped immigration reform would solve her problem.

Like thousands of other so-called Dreamers across the state and many more across the nation, Tellez was brought to this country illegally as a child and finds herself, having grown up as an American, with uncertainty and different rules than her peers. 

Tellez graduated from Parker High School and UW-Rock County. She is trying to complete her bachelor's degree at UW-Milwaukee so she can go on to medical school.

She wants to return to Janesville as a bilingual doctor, she told Ryan at his listening session at the Holiday Inn Express.

“I'm a Catholic, too. We have very similar values,” Tellez told Ryan.

Tellez' problem: She must pay out-of-state tuition, and she can't get federal student aid, so she can afford to go to college only part time.

Tellez and others hope to get that changed. They recently met with a staff member of Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, who heads the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities.

The aide told them there would be no change in tuition until the federal government does something to permanently change the status of the Dreamers.

So Tellez put the question to Ryan, what can be done?

Ryan supports a version of immigration reform, although he rejects the bipartisan bill the Senate has passed. It's too big and detailed, and so ill advised provisions might get passed before legislators realize what they are, he said.

Ryan said reform should be done in a series of smaller bills, and he thinks Congress should act, even though it's an election year.

The House leadership has made no decision to delay the issue until after the election, so there is hope, Ryan said.

Ryan said he hopes Tellez becomes a doctor and returns to Janesville, but he could not tell her when her problem might be solved.

Ryan said immigration reform is difficult, but “I think this is going to get done, because it has to get done.”

Ryan said one problem with immigration reform is that he and other Republicans don't trust the president to enforce laws, so they want to write a bill that the president must enforce.

“Immigration is a good thing for America. Most of us come from immigrant stock,” Ryan said.

Tellez said afterward that she remains frustrated at the lack of action.

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