Immigration Reform: The Boehner-Obama Connection

| November 23 2013
John Walker

In a breakthrough for immigration reform advocates of all stripes, House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama now agree on the best way to push comprehensive reform over the finish line.

In remarks to the press this week, Boehner said immigration reform is alive and well in the House.

“I’ve made clear going back to the day after the last election in 2012 that it’s time for Congress to deal with this issue,” Boehner said.

Then he tipped his hat to President Obama in acknowledgment of the president’s signal that he will have to play ball with House Republicans.

“I was encouraged that the president said that he wouldn’t stand in the way of a step-by-step immigration reform,” Boehner said. “As you know, that’s the approach the House Republicans have taken.”

In a forum conducted this week for business leaders, Obama opened the door to accepting the piecemeal approach to reform preferred by House Republicans.

“They’re suspicious of comprehensive bills,” Obama said, “but 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 as long as it’s actually delivering on those core values that we talk about.”

Obama was clear that he wouldn’t accept carving out one piece of immigration reform and discard others, which he called the “tougher stuff” that needs to get done.

“So were going to have to do it all,” he said. “In my conversations with the Republicans, I think the divide is not that wide.”

Sounds like a deal. Obama knows that if he can get his favored elements of immigration reform passed piecemeal by the House, they will be combined with the Senate-passed Gang of Eight bill in a House-Senate conference.

Then Obama will win. The Democratic Party will begin the long march towards capturing 30 million new voters.

John Boehner will win too. He will have paid his dues to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the vast array of interests that want cheap labor.

The American people will lose.