House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) poured cold water Thursday on efforts by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to advance immigration reform by suggesting that such a plan would not be able to pass the GOP-led House this year.
Asked by a reporter whether he thought the House could pass an immigration measure this year that focused on more than just border security, Boehner said: “There’s always hope.”
The speaker said he has spoken to Rubio about his plan. “I found it of interest, but the problem with this issue is that we’re operating in a very hostile political environment. To deal with a very difficult issue like this, I think it would be difficult at best.”
Rubio is pushing what his office describes as an “alternative” to the Democratic-backed Dream Act that would create a path to citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants. The senator’s bill would legalize certain young people who came to the United States while they were children by granting non-immigrant visas so they could remain in the U.S. for college or to serve in the military.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Rubio is actively courting immigrant advocates who usually side with the White House on the issue, but have grown frustrated with President Obama’s policies. Some of the activists say they are open to Rubio’s effort, even if it falls short of the original Dream Act.
Boehner also voiced frustration Thursday with Obama’s lack of action on immigration reform.
“Where’s the president’s immigration plan? Where does the president stand on this issue? Instead of campaigning all the time, maybe he ought to come back to Washington and go back to work,” Boehner said.
White House aides told The Post that they welcome serious GOP attempts to forge a bipartisan approach on immigration, but that it is too soon to know what Rubio eventually plans to propose.
Obama this month also appeared to disparage Rubio’s efforts in an interview with Telemundo. “This notion that somehow Republicans want to have it both ways, they want to vote against these laws and appeal to anti-immigrant sentiment . . . and then they come and say, ‘But we really care about these kids and we want to do something about it’ — that looks like hypocrisy to me,” Obama said.
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