Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday that he hopes the House will consider the immigration issue before Congress and the White House take up the next increase in the federal debt ceiling.
In some of his most extended remarks on the topic since the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration overhaul bill last month, Boehner also suggested that illegal immigrants shouldn't expect "special treatment" as part of the ongoing review of immigration laws.
"Americans expect as a nation of laws that we’ll enforce them, starting at the border. I think it’s only fair," Boehner said. "They expect that no one who broke our laws will get special treatment. People expect that there should be fairness for children who came to this country illegally, but through no fault of their own. And they see no fairness in giving out most green cards based on the basis of luck instead of considering people’s education and their skills."
Boehner endorsed ongoing efforts to write a bill dealing with the legal status of children of illegal immigrants. The House Judiciary Committee is slated to hold a hearing on the topic next week before Republicans complete writing a bill on it, according to GOP aides.
Boehner was asked several times whether he foresaw opportunities to work directly with President Obama on an immigration bill, or whether the House would ever adopt the comprehensive approach adopted by the Senate.
"This is a tricky path to do this correctly," he said at one point. "We can’t have real immigration reform if we don’t first secure our borders. Americans will not accept an overhaul of the immigration laws without some real evidence that the borders are secured, and that we have the ability to enforce our laws."
"I want the House to do this in a deliberative way," Boehner added later.
Boehner said he supports those plans because, "this is about basic fairness. You know, these children were brought here of no accord of their own, and frankly they're in a very difficult position. And I think many of our members believe that this issue needs to be addressed."
Congress is expected to consider the debt ceiling sometime this fall.