John Boehner: Obama’s immigration move ‘put everyone in a difficult position’


House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

President Obama’s decision to stop deporting some illegal immigrants will make it more difficult for the White House and Congress to reach a bipartisan deal on immigration reform, House Speaker John A. Boehner said Monday.

The president’s decision “puts everyone in a difficult position,” Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters after his weekly meeting with GOP lawmakers. “I think we all have concerns for those who are caught in this trap, who — who through no fault of their own are here. But the president’s actions are going to make it much more difficult for us to work in a bipartisan way to get to a permanent solution.”

Obama announced Friday that his administration will stop deporting some illegal immigrants who were brought to the country as children and have gone on to be productive and otherwise law-abiding residents. The move pushed immigration policy to the forefront of the presidential campaign and was seen by some of the president’s supporters as a wise attempt to box-in Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and GOP lawmakers, forcing them to either endorse the president’s move or criticize the decision and potentially distance them further from the nation’s fast-growing Hispanic electorate.

While showing sympathy for those affected by the policy, Boehner said Tuesday that Obama had again “turned to the politics of envy and division” by making the surprise decision and working to distract voters from his weak economic record — arguably the only issue Republicans want to discuss this campaign season.

“Where’s the president’s plan? There is no plan,” Boehner said of Obama’s immigration reform record. “Three-and-a-half years he’s been in office, he talks about this, but he — there’s no plan.”

Any immigration reform plan must focus on border security, enforcing immigration laws and fixing “the problems for those 12 million illegals that are here in our country,” Boehner said.

The speaker’s first verbal comments about Obama’s decision contrast sharply with Senate Democrats, who once again cheered the president’s decision Monday and faulted the GOP for abandoning efforts to reform the nation's immigration system.

“I hope my Republican colleagues will finally join Democrats to find a bipartisan way to mend this nation’s flawed immigration system — instead of just complaining that the system is broken,” Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid said Monday.

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Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.
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