- The Washington Times - Friday, April 18, 2014

A day after reports that House Speaker John A. Boehner is telling fundraisers he is determined to get an immigration bill done this year, the Ohio Republican’s spokesman walked those comments back slightly, saying any action will still depend on President Obama.

“Nothing has changed. As he’s said many times, the Speaker believes step-by-step reform is important, but it won’t happen until the president builds trust and demonstrates a commitment to the rule of law,” said Brendan Buck, a Boehner spokesman.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Mr. Boehner told donors at a closed-door fundraiser he is “hell-bent on getting this done this year.” That stance is controversial among many of his fellow Republicans, who think the issue is politically treacherous, both now and for the GOP’s future.


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House Republicans have struggled with immigration since Mr. Obama’s 2012 re-election. Mr. Boehner, the day after that election, announced immigration was the top issue where he and the president could cooperate.

But Mr. Boehner’s troops have been less eager.

Early this year Mr. Boehner released a series of principles for a broad immigration overhaul, and it seemed like the issue was poised for a resurgence. But those hopes were dashed as Mr. Obama took unilateral steps to delay deadlines and change interpretations of his health law — leaving many House Republicans to say they feared he would do the same thing with an immigration law.

Mr. Boehner has also adopted that stance, including in an interview with Fox News earlier this month.

“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. How can we trust the president to actually obey the law and enforce the law that we would write?’” the speaker said.

For his part, Mr. Obama is facing fire from both sides: Conservatives who say he’s not enforcing deportation laws, and immigrant-rights advocates who say he’s being too stern in who he’s deporting.

The president is looking for ways to carve still more people out of danger of deportation, but he’s also trying to find partners on Capitol Hill to pass a broad legalization of illegal immigrants, including granting most of them citizenship rights.