Carney calls Boehner claim on immigration ‘laughable’

The White House and House Speaker John Boehner sparred over immigration reform Tuesday, after the GOP leader declared that no one has worked harder than he has to fix the nation's border control system.

White House press secretary Jay Carney speaks to reporters about the so-called "sequester" at the White House in Washington February 28, 2013. (Credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque) White House press secretary Jay Carney (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Boehner's remarks, at a news conference, drew a stinging rebuke from White House press secretary Jay Carney at his daily briefing.

"The idea that you can, oh, I don't know, declare yourself to have been more committed than anyone to improve our immigration system and then have nothing to show for it is a little laughable," Carney said.The back-and-forth came on a day when the House Judiciary Committee was scheduled to hold a hearing on the fate of young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children -- a group known as DREAMers, after the failed DREAM Act that would have given them a path to citizenship.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is working on legislation similar to the DREAM Act, which he could introduce later this month. But some Democrats and immigration advocacy groups are denouncing the proposal, saying it would fail to address the fate of millions of other undocumented immigrants, including parents and relatives of the DREAMers.

Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser to President Obama, tweeted a link to an editorial in La Opinion, a Southern California newspaper, that was critical of Cantor's proposal. The piece "nails the cruel hypocrisy of the GOP immigration plan: allow some kids to stay but deport their parents," Pfeiffer wrote.

The White House had been trying to refrain from attacking Republicans during months of debate on a comprehensive immigration plan that was approved with bipartisan support in the Senate last month.

But House leaders have said they will not support the Senate bill, choosing instead to pursue a piecemeal approach of smaller-scale bills dealing with border control and work visas.

At a news conference Tuesday, a reporter asked Boehner, who has not given his personal views on a path to citizenship for up to 11 million undocumented immigrants, about his "hands off" approach to immigration.

"Nobody has spent more time trying to fix a broken immigration system than I have," Boehner replied. "I talked about it the day after the election. I've talked about it a hundred times since. And while some may disagree about how we're going about fixing a broken immigration system, it's been a big goal of mine."

The speaker added that House Republicans "believe that a common-sense, step-by-step approach to addressing this problem makes a lot more sense than one big, massive, comprehensive bill."

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.
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