WASHINGTON — Speaker John Boehner Thursday reiterated his warning that if President Obama moves forward with his plan to relax deportation rules, it will end any chance of Congress moving an overhaul of U.S. immigration law in the next two years.
The White House is under intense pressure from immigration activists to expand its deportation deferral program to include potentially millions of undocumented persons living in the United States.
But that, Boehner and other Republicans warn, will kill any effort to take up the issuer next year. "If [Obama] acts unilaterally … he will poison the well, and there will be no chance of immigration reform moving in this Congress," Boehner told reporters, arguing, "When you play with matches, you run the risk of burning yourself. And the president is going to burn himself."
At least officially, the administration has said it remains committed to expanding the deferrals before the end of the year. But in the wake of Tuesday's electoral thumping, Democrats close to the White House like David Axelrod have begun arguing it may make sense to give the new Congress some time to work on the issue before acting unilaterally.
Although Boehner stopped short of pledging to act on immigration next year, he did say he still believes it is an issue that must be dealt with.
"It is time for the Congress of the United States to deal with a very difficult issue in our society … it's just time to deal with it," Boehner said.
John Stanton is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New Orleans. In 2014, Stanton was a recipient of the National Press Foundation’s 2014 Dirksen Award for distinguished reporting of Congress.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.