Top Republican Says President Would ‘Spoil The Well’ If He Acted Before Congress Moves On Reform

CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The House has stalled in making any real progress on immigration reform since the Senate passed its own bill last June. But on Monday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said that President Obama would “spoil the well” if he acted to move on immigration reform before Congress enacts a law. During an interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly Boehner also dismissed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s (R) softened stance on undocumented immigrants crossing the border out of an “act of love,” saying that “we’re a nation of laws.”

BOEHNER: The American people want us to deal with immigration for reform. It’s a political football for the past 15 years. I’ve tried to get the House to move on this for the last 15 or 16 months, but every time the President ignores the law like the 38 times he has on Obamacare, our members look up and go “wait a minute, you can’t have immigration reform without strong border security and internal enforcement? And how can we trust the President to actually obey the law and enforce the law that we would write?”

KELLY: He’s under more pressure now to do more by executive order on the subject of illegal immigration to defer more deportations, to use his pen and his phone as he says, to get around a Congress he thinks is standing in his way of reform. If he does that, pursues that, what if anything do you do?

BOEHNER: That will make it almost impossible to ever do immigration reform because he will spoil the well to the point where no one will trust him by giving him a new law that he will implement the way the Congress intended.”

When asked about former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s recent comment in which he said that undocumented immigrants are crossing the borders out of an “act of love,” Boehner responded, “To most people around the world, the United States is utopia. And frankly, most people want to come here. And I understand what Jeb is saying, but we’re also a nation of laws. And for those here without documents, they have to face the law at some point.”

House Republicans have done little to move a bill on a possible path to the House floor, and there no sign of a change. As Boehner indicated Monday night and many times before, House Republicans already claim that distrust of Obama is preventing reform, even though Obama has not taken any recent executive actions on immigration, and has seen some two million deportations on his watch. In fact, Obama has stated such a preference for congressional over executive action that he has even supported piecemeal bills as an alternative to one comprehensive reform bill, saying, “If they want to chop that thing up into five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don’t care what it looks like.”

But while some Republicans have claimed a theoretical commitment to reform, they have come up with a litany of excuses not to act. In recent weeks, they declined to pursue procedural efforts to get reform passed, including refusing to force a vote on something known as a “discharge petition,” refusing to add the bill as a “previous question” to a national monuments bill, and voting against adding comprehensive immigration reform as an amendment to the 2015 fiscal year Republican budget plan. House Republicans are expected to vote down another House Democrat effort on Tuesday afternoon to allow the immigration reform amendment to the Ryan budget to be debated.

Immigration advocates have long pressured the President to use executive action to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants who would have qualified for legal status under the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill — essentially all immigrants who have not committed serious offenses. A New York Times analysis found that about 80 percent of the two million deportations that occurred under the Obama administration, have not committed serious crimes. And Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data released to Bloomberg News indicated that Obama had deported “about 76,200 immigrants, representing some 20 percent of all deportations from the U.S. last year, were expelled after being convicted of immigration-related crimes or traffic offenses… Those infractions generally wouldn’t block citizenship under the Senate measure.”