Stephen Dinan and Dave Boyer, Washington Times, February 6, 2014
Chances for a broad immigration bill to pass this year took a major hit Thursday when House Speaker John A. Boehner ruled out any action until President Obama proves to Republicans’ satisfaction that he is serious about enforcing the laws and no longer will try to work around Congress.
Just a week after Mr. Boehner appeared to jump-start chances for immigration by releasing House Republican principles for a bill, his comments erased most of that momentum.
“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 said at his weekly press conference.
The White House remained optimistic. Press secretary Jay Carney said congressional Republicans, who a few years ago supported mass deportations, now are talking about granting some kind of legal status for illegal immigrants.
Republicans argue that no matter what security measures they pass, Mr. Obama can’t be trusted to follow through on them. They bristled at Mr. Obama’s promise in his State of the Union address to circumvent Congress and take executive action when he feels lawmakers aren’t bending to his will on issues such as climate change and the minimum wage.
Adding to their concerns was a reinterpretation of refugee and asylum law by the State and Homeland Security departments.
The law bars approval for applicants who give “material support” to someone tied to terrorism. The administration said that excludes some important cases and that it will apply the law only when the material support goes beyond “limited” interactions with terrorists.
Republicans said Mr. Obama can prove he is serious about the laws by engaging with Congress to find areas where he can work with lawmakers, such as job training and research funding.
“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.
The president praised Mr. Boehner last week after the speaker released Republican principles, which called for giving most illegal immigrants legal status and giving the Dreamers a specific pathway to citizenship.
With chances for reform decreasing, Mr. Obama will come under more pressure from immigrant rights groups to take unilateral action and stop all deportations.