Boehner says no immigration deal until Obama enforces laws

Posted by Jimmy Minnish on February 6, 2014 under Links | Be the First to Comment

House Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday that until President Obama proves he’s serious about enforcing immigration laws, it will be difficult to get a bill through the House this year — dealing a potentially fatal blow to the chances for action in 2014.

“Listen, there’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws. And it’s going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes,” the Ohio Republican told reporters at his weekly press conference.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Immigration Reform

That came exactly a week after Mr. Boehner had appeared to jump-start the debate by releasing principles for an immigration deal that included granting most illegal immigrants legal status and giving younger illegal immigrants a specific pathway to citizenship.

But this week, Mr. Boehner has seemed much less optimistic — and his fellow Republicans have been downright hostile to moving a bill. His Senate counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said on Tuesday that a bill can’t get written this year, and some rank-and-file conservatives in the House have said Mr. Boehner is risking both the GOP’s election chances and his own position at the head of their conference if he moves ahead with a bill.

Mr. Boehner and fellow Republicans said Mr. Obama’s credibility on the immigration issue has suffered both because of his previous moves to change policy and stop many deportations under existing laws, and because of the tone of his State of the Union address last month, when the president said he would take even more unilateral actions.

“The president’s asking us to move one of the biggest bills of his presidency, and yet he’s shown very little willingness to work with us on the smallest of things,” Mr. Boehner said. “You know, last week we sent a letter to the president outlining four bills that he talked about in the State of the Union that are sitting in the United States Senate, whether it’s the SKILLS Act, the research bill, a couple of other bills. The president could reach out and work with us on those and begin the process of rebuilding the trust between the American people and his presidency.”

For his part Mr. Obama is trapped between both sides of the issue.

In 2012, in the middle of his re-election campaign, he announced a policy making many young illegal immigrants, the so-called Dreamers who were brought to the U.S. as children, safe from deportation. But immigrant-rights advocates now want him to extend that policy to most illegal immigrants.

Mr. Obama says that would be stretching his powers too far.

But the initial move to stop deporting children, combined with a number of other policies designed to stop deporting rank-and-file illegal immigrants, hurt his credibility with Republicans.

Indeed, after years of record-setting deportations, Mr. Obama reversed course in 2013 and deportations dropped substantially.

Meanwhile, arrests of illegal immigrants along the southwest border are up — a signal that illegal immigration across that border is once again on the rise.

Congressional Democrats said Mr. Boehner’s explanation rang hollow, saying they didn’t believe most in the GOP ever wanted to pass a bill.

“I don’t place much stock in this — what I would call a rationalization of trust,” said Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, the Democratic whip in the House.

The White House said Mr. Obama is still optimistic.

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