Surprising about-face: John Boehner halts immigration reform

John-Boehner-troubled-at-podium
Photo credit: Breitbart News

In an abrupt about-face, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced Thursday that immigration reform would be taken off the table until President Obama can be trusted to execute the laws already on the books.

“There’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws,” Boehner said, according to Breitbart News. “And it’s going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes.”

The Senate sent the immigration ball to Boehner’s court after it approved a comprehensive 1,000-plus-page bill in June. The speaker originally said he favored a slow, piecemeal approach — address border security first, then deal with those illegally here in a separate measure. But he’s since been considering comprehensive legislation similar to the Senate’s.

The most recent version the speaker advanced provided a pathway to legal status short of citizenship for the country’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, prompting conservative House Republicans to suggest a change in leadership.

“It’s going to require blood if this happens,” one GOP member said, according to Breitbart.

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The president’s increased willingness to use executive orders in lieu of legislation to implement his pet programs has only aggravated the situation, Boehner said.

“The American people, including many of my members, do not believe that the reform that we’re talking about will be implemented as it was intended to be,” he said. “The president seems to change the health care law on a whim, whenever he likes. 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.”

Conservative pundits have been urging GOP leaders not to approve any immigration bill in 2014 — especially one granting legal status to immigrants.

“Republicans have no obligation to assist the Democrats as they change the country in a way that favors them electorally, particularly when it does great harm to the people already here,” conservative columnist Ann Coulter wrote recently.

Although Boehner’s announcement is welcome news to conservatives, the speaker left the door open for future negotiations.

“I’m going to continue to talk to my members about how to move forward, but the president is going to have to do his part as well,” Boehner said.

Indeed, NumbersUSA, which wants to see immigration numbers fall to pre-1965 levels, isn’t letting down its guard.

“Unfortunately since we know that since the Republican leadership wants to push amnesty…we can’t trust these declarations,” said Rosemary Jenks, the group’s director of government relations, according to Breitbart

Prior to Boehner’s announcement, House members had grown increasingly restless over his earlier plans to move forward on immigration.

“There has been talk among House Members about forcing new leadership elections in the House to include a new speaker if they try to bring an immigration bill to the floor this year,” a senior GOP aide told Breitbart Wednesday.

With the Obama administration’s missteps in recent months, especially the debacle his signature health plan has become, 2014 should be a banner year for the GOP. But any gains would be short-lived if Boehner makes a push for immigration before the midterms.

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