The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

February 18, 2014

Boehner, GOP hold key to immigration

Why it matters: GOP can't call immigration reform vital, but then fail to work on bipartisan legislation.

On Jan. 30 House Speaker John Boehner said “the serious problems in our immigration system must be solved,” and highlighted his party’s intent to work in a “bipartisan manner” to fix it. He noted the lack of reform is harming the economy and national security.

The long-awaited statement triggered hope that broad reform legislation would finally be hammered out this year.

But just a week later, Boehner declared that his caucus is unlikely to move forward on immigration. The reason: “There’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws.”

This is a new one. Speaker Boehner is now arguing his caucus can’t go along with passing laws because they fear they won’t be fully enforced? That attitude won’t bode well for the next three years of Obama’s administration.

If immigration reform is again avoided the fault falls clearly on Boehner and his inability to lead his caucus, presuming there are reasonable efforts by the Demcrats to compromise.

Republicans have long stated their first goal with immigration reform is to not only toughen borders and better track those here illegally and to deport those with criminal records.

The Obama administration can’t be accused of not responding. Under this administration 2 million people have been deported, far more than under the entire Bush administration.

The GOP has also shown reluctance to provide a so-called “path to citizenship” for the millions of undocumented immigrants in the country, a position Democrats — until recently — were committed to. But Democrats signaled they would be open to something short of a path to citizenship if it brings immigration reform.

And Democrats have indicated that strong border security and domestic protections should be part of immigration reform.

Many Republicans know that failure to enact immigration reform is damaging to them as the Latino vote is the fastest growing part of the electorate.

Still, Boehner is unable to exert the power of his leadership to enact what he calls vital reform legislation.

If reform again fails this year, the fault now rests with the speaker.

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