Boehner: Immigration Reform 'Absolutely Not' Dead
On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) declared that immigration reform was "absolutely not" dead this Congress at a press conference in which his staff reportedly asked Hispanic media to attend.
“Is immigration reform dead? Absolutely not,” Boehner said, according to The Hill. “I’ve made clear going back to the day after the last election in 2012 that it’s time for Congress to deal with this issue. I believe that Congress needs to deal with this issue.”
Boehner made his remarks two days after President Barack Obama said he would not mind immigration reform being broken up into various pieces so long as all the pieces, including a pathway to citizenship, pass in what would be a comprehensive immigration bill in everything but name. Boehner and other House Republican leaders said they would not go to conference on the existing Senate immigration bill but did not rule out going to conference on various piecemeal bills.
"I was encouraged that the president said that he wouldn't stand in the way of a step-by-step immigration reform," Boehner added, according to the Huffington Post. "As you know, that's the approach the House Republicans have taken. The American people are skeptical of big comprehensive bills, and frankly, they should be. The only way to make sure immigration reform works this time is to address these complicated issues one step at a time."
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who has been one of the staunchest opponents against comprehensive immigration reform and amnesty, warned the House on Tuesday that they needed to "be on alert" for creative ways supporters of immigration reform would use to get the law enacted.
"House members need to be on alert: it’s not step-by-step if the individual bills are combined into a comprehensive proposal in a backroom negotiation and delivered to the President’s desk," Sessions said. "Instead, the House must insist that enforcement is accomplished before advancing any other immigration bills."
Obama said on Tuesday, "If they want to chop that thing up in five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don't care what it looks like... so long as they deliver on the core values." Obama said that the pathway to citizenship provision in the Senate's bill that the Congressional Budget Office determined would lower the wages of working class Americans had to be in any immigration reform legislation.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who wrote the Senate's bill along with five other senators including Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), has said that supporters of immigration reform may try to pass the legislation after the Republican primaries next year. He emphasized that a pathway to citizenship had to be a "fundamental principle" on any immigration reform legislation that comes out of Congress.