President Barack Obama has provided House Speaker John Boehner with a final deadline of sorts for moving immigration reform legislation through the House of Representatives.
A White House official confirmed Obama asked Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to delay his completion of a review of U.S. deportation policies until the end of the summer. The White House said this would give Boehner more time to act because Obama believes there is still a “window” of opportunity for immigration reform legislation to pass in the House. Some advocates believe the House could pass immigration reform legislation after the end of Republican primaries, in which immigration has become a thorny issue.
“The President’s priority is to enact a permanent solution for people currently living in the shadows and that can only come with immigration reform,” a White House official said in an email.
“Legislation should also continue to strengthen our border security, modernize the legal immigration system, and hold employers accountable. He believes there’s a window for the House to get immigration reform done this summer, and he asked the Secretary to continue working on his review until that window has passed. There’s a bipartisan consensus. It’s time for them to act and the President didn’t want the discussion of the Secretary’s review to interfere with the possibility of action in the House.”
In March, Obama directed Johnson to lead an administrative review of whether deportation policies could be made more “humane,” a move aimed at reassuring immigration activists. It is largely expected Obama will take unilateral action to lessen deportations if Congress doesn’t act.
Potomac Research analyst Greg Valliere said Obama’s message was clear.
“If you fail to act, deportation policy will be liberalized; if you want to negotiate, deportations are on the table — your choice,” Valliere wrote in a research brief this morning.
Boehner’s office gave a cool response to the Obama administration’s decision. Boehner has repeatedly said the House won’t move on any legislation unless Obama provides convincing evidence he will enforce the law. After Obama announced a review of deportation policies, it only intensified calls from Republican members of Congress who said he couldn’t be trusted to enforce the law.
“Enforcing the law as written isn’t a ‘concession’ — it is the President’s solemn responsibility,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in an email. “Now isn’t the time to be playing politics with immigration enforcement or our national security.”
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