Boehner: No Formal Talks on Immigration Bill

Wednesday, 13 Nov 2013 02:18 PM

 

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Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday the House will not negotiate with the Senate over its sweeping immigration reform bill, which effectively kills any chances of immigration-reform legislation passing in the near future.

"We have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill," the Ohio Republican told a news conference, pointing out the House is in no rush to pass the measure that would legalize many illegal immigrants by President Barack Obama's proposed year-end timeline.

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"We've made it clear that we're going to move on a common sense, step-by-step approach in terms of how we deal with immigration," Boehner said, according to NBC News.  "The idea that we're going to take up a 1,300-page bill that no one had ever read, which is what the Senate did, is not going to happen in the House."

Before the news conference, several immigrant children approached Boehner as he sat down for breakfast at a Capitol Hill diner and described how they could lose parents to deportation. The children were in Washington as several organizations maintain their pressure on the House to act on immigration.

Carmen Lima, a 13-year-old from California, told Boehner that she feared never seeing her father again and asked Boehner if the group could count on Boehner for his vote.

"Well, I'm trying to find some way to get this thing done," Boehner said. "It's ... not easy — not gonna be an easy path forward. But I've made it clear since the day after the election that it's time to get this done."

Story continues below video.

Immigration-reform advocates had hoped that a compromise could be reached through negotiation between the two chambers, which would result in legislation allowing undocumented immigrants to eventually become legal or to receive citizenship status.

Boehner said that Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is drawing up a set of guidelines on immigration along with members from both sides of the aisle.

"Let's understand something," he said. "I want to deal with this issue. This is about trying to do this in a way that the American people and our members can absorb.

"There are hundreds of issues involved in dealing with immigration reform. We've got to deal with these in a common-sense way where our members understand what we're doing and their constituents understand."

Declining to say how long it would take to come up with immigration legislation, Boehner added that "as we develop the principles, we'll figure out how we're going to move ahead."

Republicans believe that the Gang of Eight bill, which was passed in the Senate with bipartisan support, would act as a kind of amnesty for illegal immigrants who could take jobs away from Americans.

Conservatives also are fighting to prevent any immigration legislation in the House because they believe it would be unfair to immigrants who are here legally. Democrats expressed frustration over the House's lack of action at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on enforcing laws to deal with legal immigrants who overstay their visas.

"If we can vote 45 times to gut Obamacare and have another vote scheduled this week, why can the Republican leadership not find the time to schedule one vote on immigration?" asked Rep. Luis GutiƩrrez, Democrat from Illinois. "They say that where there is a will there is a way and I think there is time to get something done, but I don't believe the Republican Party has the will to do it."

Meanwhile, eight leaders of faith-based organizations who are concerned the existing immigration system is hurting families in their congregations met with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and senior White House officials Wednesday in an effort to maintain pressure on lawmakers.

The White House said the religious leaders and Obama agreed there is a moral imperative for overhauling the nation's immigration laws and are committed to pushing Congress to act.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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