When House Republicans released a set of immigration principles last week, it encouraged activists that Congress could tackle the issue this year. But House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday threw cold water on the issue.
Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters the main obstacle for moving forward is a lack of trust in President Obama.
“There’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws,” Boehner said at his weekly press conference. “It’s going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes.”
Boehner was not specific on how Obama could build trust with House Republicans, though he said he would continue to speak to his colleagues about how to move forward on the immigration issue.
Obama has deported a record 1.8 million people during his five years in office, in part to demonstrate that his administration is serious about enforcing immigration laws. But that didn’t stop Boehner from accusing the president of “feeding more distrust about whether he’s committed to the rule of law.”
“The president is asking us to move one of the biggest bills of his presidency, yet he has shown very little willingness to work with us on some of the smaller things,” he said.
Boehner said that Obama’s push to use more executive actions and changes made to his signature healthcare law has caused GOP lawmakers to not “trust that the reform that we’re talking about will be implemented as it was intended to be.”
In 2012, Obama signed an executive action that offered temporary legal status for certain young undocumented immigrants, known as Dreamers.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) noted that House Republicans voted to defund that program last year, but their principles voiced support for offering Dreamers a pathway to citizenship.
The Speaker has expressed a personal willingness to address immigration reform. But he’s under pressure from House conservatives to shelve the issue, which could divide the party during an election year.
Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), who briefly worked with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on immigration legislation last year, said this week it would be a mistake for the Speaker to forge ahead.
If Boehner put an immigration bill on the floor, Labrador told Roll Call, “it should cost him his speakership.”