Paul Ryan's Family Legacy

By Connie Schultz

April 11, 2018 5 min read

House Speaker Paul Ryan's stated reason for leaving office after this year's election sure is getting a lot of traction.

"If I am here for one more term, my kids will only have ever known me as a weekend dad," he said. "I just can't let that happen. So I will be setting new priorities in my life."

His children are all teenagers; the youngest is 13. I'm not suggesting teens don't need their parents — anyone who's raised one knows otherwise — but Ryan's political legacy lays bare his hypocrisy.

It is true that most congressional spouses sometimes, if not regularly, wish for more family time. I speak from 14 years of experience as one of them.

It is just as true that putting family first can mean doing everything one can to oppose the continued harm this president is inflicting on families across the country. This requires one to define family as something bigger than the number of people living under your roof. One must also be willing to go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump in defense of other families.

On so many fronts, from his opposition to the Affordable Care Act to his dream of gutting Medicaid, Paul Ryan has failed to do this. For just a moment, though, let's focus on what has been happening to immigrant families under his complacent watch.

A Brazilian mother came to the U.S. last August with her 14-year-old son, whom she is trying to protect from gang violence. U.S. immigration officials are holding her in Texas, but they sent her son to a shelter in Illinois.

As Los Angeles Times reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske reported, activists and attorneys say anecdotal evidence suggests this practice is becoming more popular. This, even though arrests for illegal crossings are at a 46-year low.

That mother didn't want her name revealed, by the way, because she is trying to flee domestic violence.

If I am here for one more term, my kids will only have ever known me as a weekend dad. I just can't let that happen.

Jorge Garcia was 10 years old when his parents crossed illegally from Mexico into this country. After living for 30 years in this country with no criminal record, the father of two was deported in January.

"It's empty," his wife, Cindy Garcia, told the Detroit Free Press. "The house is completely empty. We walk in, and it's not the same. We're always looking at the door, waiting for him to come through from work, and he's not going to come through."

She sleeps with two of his shirts. "They still have his smell. I put them on me, like just lay them on me because they still have his smell of his cologne and stuff. ... It gives me comfort to where my anxiety doesn't flare up as bad."

If I am here for one more term, my kids will only have ever known me as a weekend dad. I just can't let that happen.

In Ohio, where I live, Beatriz Morelos Casillas, a 37-year-old mother with no criminal record, was torn from her four American children and dumped into one of the most dangerous parts of Mexico after a traffic stop here revealed her immigration status.

Her husband, David, told NBC News that he cannot find the words to help his children understand why their mother is gone. "When we told the children, they all started to cry. They asked me, 'Why? Why, if the police are supposed to help?' Why did they take their mother?"

If I am here for one more term, my kids will only have ever known me as a weekend dad. I just can't let that happen.

Another mother in Ohio, Maribel Trujillo Diaz, was torn away from her four American children. She, too, had no criminal record and had fled Mexico in 2002 because of drug cartels targeting her family. Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Catholic dioceses in several states tried to persuade the Trump administration to let her stay, but her family was torn apart anyway.

Her youngest child, who is 3, has epilepsy.

"She doesn't understand what's happening," Trujillo told The Washington Post. "She thinks I'm on a vacation."

Tell us again, Paul Ryan, how you don't want to be a "weekend dad."

Tell us again how you "just can't let that happen."

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University's school of journalism. She is the author of two books, including "...and His Lovely Wife," which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz ([email protected]) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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