Boehner: Obama spoiled immigration reform

UPI/Kevin Dietsch
UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- House Speaker John Boehner blamed President Obama for all but ending chances U.S. immigration laws will be overhauled this year.

The Ohio Republican said Obama had sown distrust among the Republican caucus by changing or delaying parts of the nation's healthcare-reform law last year and pledging in his State of the Union address last week to pursue his agenda through his executive powers.


"The American people, including many of my members, don't trust that the [immigration] reform that we're talking about [with tighter border security as a prerequisite] will be implemented as it's intended to be," Boehner told reporters.

"The president seems to change the healthcare law on a whim, whenever he likes," Boehner continued. "Now he's running around the country telling everyone that 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," Boehner said. "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."


White House spokesman Jay Carney rejected the notion Obama was an untrustworthy negotiating partner on immigration and pointed to increased staffing and technology to secure the border.

"The president has an exceptional record of improving border security," he told reporters.

Asked if Republicans can trust Obama, Carney said, "Yes."

Asked if Obama would take action on his own to advance immigration reform, Carney said: "There's no alternative to comprehensive immigration reform passing through Congress. It requires legislation.

"And the president has made that clear in the past, and that continues to be his view. That's why we need to work together to build on the existing bipartisan consensus to see it help deliver a bill through the House and then a bill that can ultimately reach the president's desk," Carney said.

"When it comes to executive actions versus legislation, we've been saying from the beginning that this is a question of doing both.

"And immigration reform is something that needs to be done through the legislature, through the Congress."

Carney said the administration was still "optimistic about the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform in 2014."

Boehner's comments came a week after he suggested House Republicans were poised to act on immigration after months of inaction.


Aides had told the Wall Street Journal, after a House GOP retreat last week, action was possible as soon as spring.

Obama followed this by saying the differences between the two sides were bridgeable.

When Boehner spoke Thursday, he reiterated he personally supported addressing border-control laws, immigrant workers and the 11 million people living in the United States without legal permission.

But he also lamented, "I've never underestimated the difficulty in moving forward this year."

His comments came two days after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who faces a primary challenge, predicted the immigration push would stall, saying the dissimilar approaches between the House and Senate presented "sort of an irresolvable conflict."

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Sunday comprehensive immigration reform was "clearly in doubt" this year.

Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, told Roll Call Tuesday Boehner should lose his speakership if he pursues the bill, which could be seen as giving Obama a legislative victory in a midterm election year.

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