Boehner says Congress should address children of undocumented immigrants
July 17th, 2013
01:16 PM ET
1 year ago

Boehner says Congress should address children of undocumented immigrants

Washington (CNN) - After dodging the issue for months, House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday took a position on citizenship for undocumented immigrants, saying Congress must deal with the children of those who are in the United States illegally.

"This is about basic fairness. These children were brought here on no accord of their own. And frankly, they are in a very difficult position. And I think many of our members believe that this issue needs to be addressed," Boehner said at the weekly press conference with House GOP leaders.

Boehner has made it clear the House will not take up the bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate, which did provide a path to citizenship, but the speaker has repeatedly sidestepped the issue of whether he could support any sort of legalization proposal.

Although Boehner did finally weigh in on one component of reform, he would not say how the House would ultimately address the broader issue of the 11 million undocumented workers currently in the United States. But he did repeat earlier comments that he believed addressing the status of those here illegally was part of the overall problem Congress needs to tackle.

"We are trying to be deliberative in terms of how we deal with all of these issues, both fixing the problem with border security and enforcement, how to fix a broken legal immigration system, and yes – we've got the problem with those who are here who are undocumented," Boehner said.

Most House Republicans oppose allowing eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the country. But at a meeting last week of all House Republicans, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor suggested that children fall into a special category and shouldn't be penalized for their parents' decision to break the law.

According to several members who attended the closed door session, many agreed with that approach. The details are still unclear, but Cantor and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, are drafting legislation that provides some type of process permitting citizenship for these children.

On Wednesday Cantor emphasized that this was one area where both political parties should work together to provide some certainty for children.

"The history of our country is one that has moved away from holding kids liable for the deeds, misdeeds, commitment of crimes by parents. These are, in many instances, kids without a country if we don't allow them to become full citizens of our country," Cantor told reporters Wednesday.

The House Judiciary Committee, which has passed several piecemeal immigration bills on party line votes, announced it would hold its first hearing on the topic of children next week.

House Democrats have criticized GOP leaders for not working across the aisle on immigration legislation.

"They're allowing once again, the tea party element in the Republican Party to drive the immigration debate," House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra, D-California, said Wednesday. Becerra and a group of lawmakers from both parties have been working on a comprehensive bipartisan immigration bill, but the group has had trouble finalizing the proposal.

Pressed when the House would actually vote on immigration legislation, Boehner punted, saying "it's too early to predict what we will or won't do."


Filed under: House Republicans • Immigration • John Boehner
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    So they care about the children, huh? Between this and their stance on abortion it doesnt look like republicans care too much about your rights if your over the age of 18.

    July 17, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    "This is about basic fairness. These children were brought here on no accord of their own. And frankly, they are in a very difficult position. And I think many of our members believe that this issue needs to be addressed,"
    -----------------------------------------------
    Tell your caucus to get their heads out of their behind. Those kids know no other country other than the U.S. Hold the parents responsible since they're the one's who brought their children here illegally. I suggest that per family, each child that was smuggled in, there should be a fine, per child. That sounds reasonable and harsh enough for breaking our law. It also sounds like something a right winger would suggest, but this is something I would support as a liberal.

    July 17, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  3. Fair is Fair

    Anonymous

    So they care about the children, huh? Between this and their stance on abortion it doesnt look like republicans care too much about your rights if your over the age of 18.
    -----–
    It wasn't the kids that broke the law. It was their criminal parents.

    July 17, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  4. Randy, San Francisco

    Speaker Boehner must show courage and stand up to Tea Partiers in his caucus. He can demonstrate true leadership by forming a bipartisan coallition of pro-immigration reform Republicans and Democrats.

    July 17, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  5. Rick McDaniel

    That sounds like a wrong thing coming down the pike........and if proposes ANY immigration bill, whatsoever, he should lose the 2014 election, without any doubt, by having a principled challenger.

    July 17, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. jules

    Congress has to stop acting like children before they can do anything for children. Boehner has a lot of nerve saying they need to do something about immigrant children when the GOP doesn't want to take care of American children. I think that something needs to be done but the GOP is the party that doesn't care about anything or anybody except getting reelected.

    July 17, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  7. Lynda/Minnesota

    "This is about basic fairness. These children were brought here on no accord of their own. And frankly, they are in a very difficult position. And I think many of our members believe that this issue needs to be addressed," Boehner said at the weekly press conference with House GOP leaders."

    Agreed.

    "Most House Republicans oppose allowing eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the country. But at a meeting last week of all House Republicans, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor suggested that children fall into a special category and shouldn't be penalized for their parents' decision to break the law."

    Has Mr. Cantor introduced what the GOP position is on how to handle these children legislatively ... ?

    July 17, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  8. California Gary

    So Boehner is suddenly interested in basic fairness? This is news......that is so unlike him. Makes me wonder what he is up to.........a little game of "rope a dope" maybe?

    July 17, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    "This is about basic fairness. These children were brought here on no accord of their own. And frankly, they are in a very difficult position. And I think many of our members believe that this issue needs to be addressed," Boehner said.
    -------------------------
    The Republican Party has already addressed the issue. "Self deportation." Everyone cheered to a standing ovation.

    Now watch how Boehner's narrative on this issue will evolve to making failure the fault of the Democrats. Today, he says the issue needs to be addressed. Over time he will kaliedescope throught rejecting Democratic proposals, which he has already done by rejecting the Senate bill, BTW.....to "workiing within his own caucus" to make it look like they're actually trying to get something done ..... to blaming Democrats for not getting onboard, all in, with conservatives .... to finally blaming Democrats for failing to even bring a bill to the floor, which he totally controls, BTW. "We tried."

    July 17, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  10. just sayin

    ok so the message we are now sending is please don't cross the border alone, wait until you have a kid or two to drag along and we'll feel sorry for you and give you all citizenship. sorry, the kids need to go too. they need to get in line with their criminal parents at the front door to this country. don't use your kids to garner sympathy. that is pathetic and manipulative beyond belief.

    July 17, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "It wasn't the kids that broke the law. It was their criminal parents."

    Except it's a civil offense, not criminal. Read. Learn. Speak. In that order.

    July 17, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  12. Evergreen

    The GOP is finally trying to accomplish something?! I guess they finally realize they can't make the President a one termer.

    July 17, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "Has Mr. Cantor introduced what the GOP position is on how to handle these children legislatively ... ?"

    They've enlisted Larry Craig to advise them on that...

    July 17, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    " He can demonstrate true leadership by forming a bipartisan coallition of pro-immigration reform Republicans and Democrats."

    100% truth right there...of course, it's at the to of his "things not to do" list.

    July 17, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    Rick McDaniel wrote:

    That sounds like a wrong thing coming down the pike........and if proposes ANY immigration bill, whatsoever, he should lose the 2014 election, without any doubt, by having a principled challenger.
    ----------------
    So, what I've been saying is true. The right wing doesn't want to do anything, except keep the status quo. And here I thought that the right may have actually been serioius about "securing our border." My bad.

    July 17, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  16. hozo1

    what about jobs!! stop with abortion, immigration and all your other nonsense ... you campaigned on the party of jobs and you have ended up being the party of 'government in your life' ... are there any real republicans left? the ones who believe in less government interference in our lives in ALL aspects ... where are the jobs!!!

    July 17, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Lynda wrote:

    Has Mr. Cantor introduced what the GOP position is on how to handle these children legislatively ... ?
    -----------------
    They haven't suggested, announced, or otherwise introduced anything in years. They aren't starting now. Just watch and stay tuned. They're gonna get all choked up, make no constructive suggestion, fail to bring a bill to the House floor, and then blame their failures on Democrats.,,,,once again.

    They are very good at looking busy, when in fact they aren't getting anything constructive done.

    July 17, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  18. Fair is Fair

    Sniffit

    "It wasn't the kids that broke the law. It was their criminal parents."

    Except it's a civil offense, not criminal. Read. Learn. Speak. In that order.
    -------
    I've asked on several occasions, counselor – what's your objection to making this a federal offense, since immigration laws are "supposed" to be enforced at the federal level?

    July 17, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  19. John

    Boehner punted, saying "it's too early to predict what we will or won't do."

    No, it is not too early. We have YEARS of experience now with a 'loyal opposition' whose only stated goal is to deprive the current POTUS of ANY success. It was to deny him a 2nd term by making him look in-effectual, but he won that anyway. Did they learn anything from that? No. So it is EASY to make predictions. Here is mine. Until the GOP puts America before Party (which seems unlikely) they will continue to DO NOTHING, until they are eliminated from government altogether over the next several election cycles. It may already be too late, where anything they allow to happen will be seen as too little too late.

    July 17, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  20. Lynda/Minnesota

    "They've enlisted Larry Craig to advise them on that... "

    After awhile you'd think they'd give up on their tap dance stall technique and come up with
    something, well .... constructive they can brag about. Yeah, I know. I know.

    As it is, this dancing around issue after issue is exhausting to follow. No doubt this is why they require 2 weeks
    on ... 2 weeks off. Or whatever their routine is this year. I've lost track.

    July 17, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  21. AZ Girl

    Ok, so correct me if I'm wrong but, didn't they try to address this issue, at least partially, through the DREAM Act? Which was hissed and booed at by the GOP? Just asking...

    July 17, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    I vote that we change the name Republicans to Incredibles.

    July 17, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  23. just sayin

    Fair is Fair
    Sniffit
    "It wasn't the kids that broke the law. It was their criminal parents."
    Except it's a civil offense, not criminal. Read. Learn. Speak. In that order.
    ---
    I've asked on several occasions, counselor – what's your objection to making this a federal offense, since immigration laws are "supposed" to be enforced at the federal level?
    ---

    because that would be mean, mean, mean... these people are just trying to get a better life and some welfare, maybe some education, and maybe some free housing, and possibly free food and a free cell phone. and the statue of liberty says get over here everybody, we want you to invade our country. and after all, every other country in the world does this too, right?

    the real answer: because the government never was serious about enforcing immigration laws and never will be.

    July 17, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  24. sonny chapman

    "Criminal Parents" !! Take the damn beam out of your own eye before worrying about the great transgressions of people who came across the border to scrub toilets to try & make a better life for their families. If a Repub. THINKS that someone cheated them out of a dime, they go nuts. That's why I still can't understand the Repub. insanity about Obamacare. It makes freeloaders pay something for their free medical care. Maybe if we renamed it ,"The Dole/Nixon Personal Responsibility Health Care Act."

    July 17, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  25. The Real Tom Paine

    -Fair is Fair

    Sniffit

    "It wasn't the kids that broke the law. It was their criminal parents."

    Except it's a civil offense, not criminal. Read. Learn. Speak. In that order.
    ---
    I've asked on several occasions, counselor – what's your objection to making this a federal offense, since immigration laws are "supposed" to be enforced at the federal level?

    **********************
    2 things: one, who would you propose to pay for enforcement of this new federal law, and why would any conservative be advocating for putting new laws on the books when we already have laws to deal with this? Conservatives have been screaming that passing more laws on anything is a waste of time. How do we pay for adequate enforcement of your master plan of building a giant fence, the deporation camps to shove them into, as well as the law enforcement to scour the countryside for illegals and their kids? How about closing all those tax loopholes-nah, the righties heads would explode: just put it on the credit card like they always do and kick the can down the road. Problem solved.

    July 17, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
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