Neil Munro, Daily Caller, March 3, 2014
House Speaker John Boehner told agriculture businesses in his home district that he’s pushing for a rewrite of the nation’s immigration laws, despite opposition and skepticism among some swing voters and GOP supporters.
“I’m still working with the President, working with my colleagues in a bipartisan way, and the Congress to move this issue along,” Boehner said in his annual outreach to agriculture leaders, dubbed the “Farm Forum,” held Saturday in Ohio.
Boehner indirectly acknowledged the unpopularity of his push for more immigrant workers. “I know it’s going to be hard that’s why it’s still hanging around,” he said.
“For the last 15 months I’ve been trying to move the ball down the field, only to be tackled by people that just don’t want to deal with it,” he said, according to Civitas Media.
Boehner also suggested that strengthening laws barring the hiring of illegal immigrants — principally mandated use of the E-Verify work authorization system — would wait until new laws make it easier for employers to hire foreign workers. “I’m not sure we’re ready for nationwide E-Verify until we get into substantial immigration reform,” he said.
On Monday, Boehner told the Cincinnati Enquirer that President Barack Obama has to help the GOP pass any immigration bill. “He wants to get it done. I want to get it done. . . . He’s going to have to help us in this process,” he said.
The Senate immigration bill, passed last June, would provide an conditional amnesty to more than 11 million illegal immigrants, double legal immigration for a decade, and permanently double the inflow of non-agriculture guest workers. The inflow would add roughly three foreign workers to the labor supply for every four Americans who turn 18 during the next decade.
Despite the strong pressure from business interests, public opposition has caused Boehner and other GOP leaders to delay any action, so far. Some polls show conditional public support for amnesty, but many polls show hostility from GOP voters and swing voters, especially to demands by business for more guest workers, who would work in dairy farms, the food sector, hotels, resorts, universities, financial firms and high-tech companies.
Boehner echoed some of the progressives’ language.
“We are a nation of immigrants,” Boehner said.
In the Cincinnati Enquirer interview, Boehner also echoed Obama’s claim that the award of residency and work permits to illegals would not be amnesty. “Some want to call it amnesty. I reject that premise. . . . If you come in and plead guilty and pay a fine, that’s not amnesty,” Boehner said.