Former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Sunday called America a “land of immigration,” and derided a now-scrapped “America First Caucus” effort in the House as “one of the nuttiest things I’ve ever seen.”
In an interview on NBC News’ “Meet The Press,” Boehner said he regretted that during his time in the House he wasn’t able to reform an immigration system that remains “a mess.”
“This so-called America First Caucus is one of the nuttiest things I've ever seen,” he said. “America is a land of immigration. We've been the world's giant melting pot for 250 years, and we ought to celebrate the fact that we are this giant pelting pot. To see some members of Congress who start this America First Caucus, it's the silliest thing I've ever seen. Republicans need to denounce it.”
According to Boehner, former President Barack Obama kept setting “everybody on fire” on the immigration issue, regretting the inability to come to an agreement on immigration reform.
“I wanted to get immigration reform done,” he said. “President Obama wanted to get it done.”
Yet, he said, “every time we'd get ready to move, the president would go out and give some speech or he'd loosen up some immigration regulation and just kind of set everybody on fire,” he said. “And that's not a prescription for getting things accomplished in Congress.”
“Our immigration system is a mess,” Boehner said. “It's broken, from top to bottom, and it needs to be fixed so that it's fairer for Americans who are here and fairer for those who are trying to come here.”
Boehner said he also tried without complete success to tamp down the hard-right of the GOP after a tea party surge in Congress.
“Most of those so-called tea party types frankly become very good Republicans,” he said. “On any given day, I had 210, 215 solid Republican votes. On any given day I had two or three dozen what I call knuckleheads who wanted chaos, who wanted it 100% their way or no way. But every single day, the five years I was speaker, I tried to work to bring them into the party. Some just wouldn't come.”
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