Hoyer: Obama on brink of 'significant' immigration changes

 

The Obama administration is poised to make "significant" changes in immigration policy if Republicans fail to act on the issue before August, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) warned Wednesday. 

While President Obama has delayed his consideration of new reforms to his deportation policies until August — a delay designed to give GOP leaders more time to wrangle support from their divided conference — the Republicans have shown no appetite for taking up legislation this summer.

Hoyer, the minority whip, said Democrats will continue to push for a comprehensive reform package, such as the one passed by the Senate last summer. But with the clock running out, he said the Democrats are expecting Obama to step in unilaterally if GOP leaders continue to idle.

"We ought to make it very clear that if we don't act, then there's going to be a significant change in policy by the administration. We're urging that. We've discussed it with the administration," Hoyer said Wednesday during a press briefing in his office. 

"Our position is that … now's the time to address the comprehensive immigration reform bill," he added. "And we expect, by the end of the month – July … that if we don't take action, the president will take action."

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The comments arrived just hours before House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced that the House will sue Obama for what Republicans claim are abuses of executive power. Boehner did not name specific examples, but Republicans have long criticized Obama's 2012 deferred action program, which halted deportations of qualified illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children, as a case of executive overreach.

"What we’ve seen clearly over the last five years is an effort to erode the power of the legislative branch,” Boehner told reporters Wednesday. “I believe the president is not faithfully executing the laws of our country." 

Democratic leaders were quick to dismiss the lawsuit as a political stunt.

Hoyer said it was designed simply to energize the Republicans' conservative base ahead of November's midterm elections. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) echoed that message, calling it "subterfuge" designed to distract voters from more substantial issues — particularly jobs and the economy — where the Democrats’ positions tend to poll well with the public.

"They're doing nothing here," Pelosi said during a press conference. "They have to give some aura of activity."