After House Republican leaders released their immigration reform principles last week, it seemed they would get the ball rolling on the issue. But on Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) indicated efforts could stall once again because President Barack Obama can’t be trusted to enforce immigration laws.
At his weekly press conference on Thursday, Boehner described immigration reform as “an important issue” that has been “kicked around forever, and it needs to be dealt with.” However, he said the American people and many members of Congress “don’t trust that the reform we’re talking about will be implemented as it was intended to be.”
“Listen, there’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes.”
Boehner also criticized Obama, saying: “The president seems to change the health care law on a whim, whenever he likes. Now, he is running around the country telling everyone he’s going to keep acting on his own. He keeps talking about his phone and his pen, and he’s feeding more distrust about whether he’s committed to the rule of law.”
His remarks come as some House Republicans are calling for immigration reform efforts to be delayed until next year. Among those Republicans calling for the delay is Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), one of the eight House members who worked on bipartisan immigration reform legislation last year.
According to the National Review, Labrador recently said there was “overwhelming support for the idea of doing nothing this year” on immigration reform, even among Republicans who agreed with the immigration reform principles released last week.
“I think it’s a mistake for us to have an internal battle in the Republican Party this year about immigration reform,” he said, adding that immigration reform should be one of the first things Republicans take up in 2015, not this year.
Labrador went a step further when he told CQ Roll Call that Boehner should lose his position as speaker of the House if he does decide to move forward on immigration reform this year.
Immigration reform advocates blast Boehner for his remarks
Some immigration reform advocates are seeing Boehner’s recent remarks as an “excuse” to delay immigration reform efforts, while others are warning of the political consequences for the GOP if immigration reform legislation doesn’t pass this year.
Eddie Carmona, campaign manager for PICO National Network’s Campaign for Citizenship, said it is “laughable” for Boehner to try to portray Obama as “untrustworthy on the rule of law” when the president continues to deport hundreds of thousands of people every year. By the end of this year, his administration will have deported more than 2 million people.
“I wish I could say I was surprised Speaker John Boehner is blaming President Obama for his own unwillingness to act on immigration reform,” Carmona added. “The truth is, the Speaker has, time and time again, proven that he would rather pander to the extreme portions of his party than work to achieve a bipartisan solution for an issue that impacts countless families and communities across the country.”
Erika Andiola, a Dreamer and co-director of the Dream Action Coalition, said it is “unacceptable” for Boehner and other Republican leaders to delay immigration reform efforts. She pointed to the “crisis of family separation” occurring in the United States because of the lack of immigration reform.
“As the party that identifies itself with ‘family values,’ Republicans must act swiftly to address the deportation crisis or we will be looking to the President for leadership and unilateral deportation relief,” she said.
Andiola also warned that inaction on immigration reform this year will result in Dreamers and their supporters coming together “to defeat the Republican Party in 2014 and beyond.”
Similarly, Kica Matos of the Fair Immigration Movement (FIRM) said immigrant families “are tired of delay from Speaker Boehner.” She warned of the consequences the Republican Party could face at the ballot box in November if GOP leaders fails to push for immigration reform this year.
“What the Speaker fails to realize is that every day without immigration reform is a day the Republican Party loses trust from Latino and immigrant communities,” she said.
“At every turn, our communities will continue to call for a halt to deportations, and for commonsense reform with a pathway to citizenship,” Matos added. “Our nationwide apparatus will continue to inflict political pain on our opponents, until we’ve cleared the way from detractors and achieved justice for our families.”