"Teens Confront Speaker Boehner On Immigration Reform"
On Wednesday morning, two teenagers from the pro-reform group Fair Immigration Reform Movement Youth In Action, approached House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) at a diner to tell him that their families had been separated by the broken immigration system. Carmen Lima, 13, and Jennifer Martinez, 16, asked Boehner to advance immigration reform and he responded that although he was committed to moving the bill, it would not “be an easy path forward.”
CARMEN: You’re a father right?… So how would you feel if you had to tell your kids at the age of ten that you were never coming home?
BOEHNER: That wouldn’t be good.
CARMEN: That’s what happened to me. I thought I was never going to see my dad again because [inaudible]. And I cried so hard when my mom told me that, at the age of ten.
BOEHNER: Well, I’m trying to find some way to get this thing done. It’s, uh, you know, not easy—not gonna be an easy path forward. But I’ve made it clear since the day after the election that I’m going to get this done.
CARMEN: So we can count on your vote for immigration reform?
BOEHNER: I will try to find a way to move the bill forward. Thanks.
Mere hours later during a press conference, Boehner said, “We have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill … I want us to deal with this issue, but I want to deal with it in a commonsense step by step way as we develop the principles, we’ll figure out how we’ll move ahead.”
The confrontation is just one of many efforts led by immigrant advocates to pressure Congress to act on immigration reform in recent days. Some 50 young immigrant children, who have at least one parent deported, will attempt to talk to Boehner on Thursday at his Capitol Hill office. And on Wednesday, faith, civil rights leaders, and other immigrant advocates around the country began fasting to protest inaction on immigration reform.
An Obama administration directive from August advised federal immigration authorities to consider family ties and whether undocumented immigrants are low-priority when they are detained. Yet the reality is that low-priority parents are caught up in deportation proceedings as well– at least 45 percent of all immigrants deported in 2012 have no criminal record at all. In Illinois alone, 56,000 children were left without a parent due to deportation in the last six years.