Last week, we saw GOP leaders unveil their principles on immigration reform. This week, House Speaker John Boehner threw in the towel. The New York Times reports:
Facing growing resistance from conservatives, Speaker John A. Boehner on Thursday cast strong doubt that he could pass an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws this year, leaving it to President Obama to win the trust of his balking Republicans.
Mr. Boehner began his weekly news conference by saying that for 15 months he had pressed for immigration measures to address border security, new worker programs and the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country. But, he added, “I’ve never underestimated the difficulty in moving forward this year.”
“The American people, including many of my members, don’t trust that the reform that we’re talking about will be implemented as it was intended to be,” he said, citing executive actions by the Obama administration that have changed or delayed implementation of the president’s health care law. “There’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws, and it’s going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes.”
The crash comes just as a CNN releases a poll showing that the majority of voters support the provisions of the Senate plan that House Republicans have rejected:
According to the poll, 54% say the top priority for the government in dealing with the issue of illegal immigration should be developing a plan that would allow undocumented immigrants with jobs to eventually become legal U.S. residents. Just over four in ten questioned say the main focus should be developing a plan for stopping the flow of undocumented immigrants into the U.S. and for deporting those already here.
"The Republicans' insistence that border security be the primary focus of U.S. immigration policy may have been a popular stand in 2011, but not necessarily in 2014," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
"American attitudes toward undocumented immigrants have changed. Starting in 2012, most Americans have said that the government's focus should be on a plan that would allow those immigrants to become legal U.S. residents. A majority has consistently taken that position since that time - 56% in 2012, 53% in 2013, and 54% in the current poll," added Holland.
The Democratic-controlled Senate last year passed a bipartisan illegal immigration bill that included an eventual pathway towards citizenship for most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. According to the poll, more than eight in 10 support such a plan. There is little partisan divide, with 88% of Democrats, 81% of independents and 72% of Republicans in agreement.
The Senate bill stalled in the GOP dominated House. Republicans said they preferred to address the matter incrementally rather than in one comprehensive measure.
One idea House Republicans are considering is giving undocumented immigrants legal status to stay in the U.S., but not allow them a pathway towards citizenship. According to the survey, only 35% support such an idea, with just over six in 10 opposed. Again, there was no partisan divide, with two-thirds of Democrats and around six in 10 independents and Republicans opposing such a plan.