House Speaker John Boehner sharply criticized President Barack Obama’s promise to reduce enforcement of immigration laws after the election — but the GOP leader didn’t promise to reverse Obama’s actions when the midterm election is only 11 days away.
“As it actively undermines the safety and security of U.S. families, it’s understandable that the Obama administration would want to keep its actions a secret,” said a Thursday statement from Boehner’s office on his website. The statement was written by one of his communications aides, Matt Wolking.
“Americans have a right to know the truth — not to mention secure borders that actually mean something,” the statement said.
“The Obama administration must disagree, however, because it’s clear from recent news reports that it is going to great lengths to keep the American people in the dark,” said Boehner’s statement, which listed several actions taken by Obama to reduce immigration enforcement.
The statement cited news articles that described reduced border enforcement in Arizona, reduced enforcement of immigration laws against Central American migrants and the administration’s drafting of a contract to buy 34 million green cards, plus work permits, over the next five years.
Legislators and groups that want to reduce the current immigration inflow of one million people per year say Obama is planning to unilaterally create an amnesty to several million illegal immigrants, regardless of existing laws.
However, Boehner’s statement did not promise to use a GOP majority in the House to reverse those proposals, which are supported by many of the GOP’s business donors.
Nor did Boehner use the rhetoric adopted by Scott Brown, the GOP candidate in New Hampshire, who have drawn level with Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen, in part, by saying that uncontrolled immigration makes it harder for Americans to find well-paid jobs.
Obama’s policies would help get jobs for 11 million illegal immigrants, but “I want to fight for jobs for New Hampshire,” Brown said at an Oct. 21 debate with Shaheen.
In early September, Obama said he would make significant change to immigration enforcement by the end of the year. He has not said what those changes would be.
The promise of future action is expected to boost support among Latino activists in the midterm elections.
But multiple polls shows that unilateral executive action is unpopular among many Democrats, swing voters, Republicans and Latinos. Obama tacitly recognized that unpopularity in September, when he delayed the promised date for action from the end of summer to after the election.
For more than two years, Boehner has zig-zagged between the demands from GOP business donors for more immigrant workers and consumers, and the demands from GOP voters and swing voters, who want less immigration and higher wages.
In 2013 and 2014, Boehner effectively blocked the Senate’s June 2013 bill that would have roughly doubled the annual arrival of immigrants and guest-workers up to near four million, or roughly equal to the number of Americans to turn 18 each year.
Boehner also allowed his caucus to pass bills in late August that would limit Obama’s ability to provide quasi-amnesties to illegal immigrants. The Democratic-controlled Senate declined to take up those bills.
But Boehner has also repeatedly said that some sort of immigration bill should pass.
He’s also tried to avoid anger donors or voters by minimizing his comments about the issue.
“I try to stay out of that — all the issues,” and to instead focus on moving legislation through Congress, he told The Daily Caller on Sept. 28.
“My job … is to move the [legislative] process along,” he said.