Obama Gives Boehner One More Chance to Pass Immigration (Updated) (Video)
Posted at 9:26 p.m. on May 27
Immigration advocates march to the Capitol then on to the White House on May 1, calling on Congress and President Obama to stop deportations that separate families. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Updated 8:20 a.m. May 28 | President Barack Obama won’t act to reduce deportations on his own until the end of the summer — giving Speaker John A. Boehner one more chance to vote on an immigration overhaul.
Two administration officials confirmed that the president has directed Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to hold off on releasing the results of his review of immigration policy in the meantime.
The hope in the White House is that once Republican primary season largely wraps up on June 10, Boehner will have the political space to get something done.
UPDATE: The gesture didn’t elicit a positive reaction from the Ohio Republican.
“Enforcing the law as written isn’t a ‘concession’ – it is the President’s solemn responsibility,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. “Now isn’t the time to be playing politics with immigration enforcement or our national security.”
A White House official said the president’s priority is enacting a law.
“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. “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.”
A DHS official sent this statement:
While the review is ongoing, the President believes there is an opportunity for Congressional action this summer and has asked Secretary Johnson to hold on releasing any results from his review while this window for Congressional action remains open. Secretary Johnson continues to conduct the review, including meeting with stakeholders and his workforce to inform any final decisions.
Boehner has repeatedly said that nothing will happen on immigration unless the president convinces his members that he will enforce the law.
Separately, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., last week set a deadline of the August recess for passing immigration legislation, and offered to make 2017 the effective date so that Republicans could not use Obama’s enforcement of the law as an excuse not to pass it.
The overall strategy for the Democrats amounts to this — give Boehner every possibility to act — and ensure Republicans take the full blame if he doesn’t.