President Obama turned his attention to “common sense” immigration reform in a speech at the White House today, vowing to overcome opposition that has only intensified after fights over Obamacare and the debt.
Obama’s decision to take on the contentious issue of amnesty comes at a time when most Americans want Washington to focus on the economy and federal budget deficit. Just 3 percent of Americans identified immigration as the most important problem facing the country, according to Gallup’s poll this month.
But it remains a priority for the President and other supporters of amnesty for illegal immigrants, who are organizing an event to pressure conservative lawmakers on Capitol Hill next week. Obama took aim at his political adversaries in today’s remarks.
“It’s up to Republicans in the House to decide whether reform becomes a reality or not,” Obama said, according to the Daily Caller’s Neil Munro.
In the House, however, even conservatives who support immigration reform have said Obama’s recent behavior poisoned relations.
“If the President is going to show the same kind of good faith effort that he’s shown over the last couple of weeks, then I think it would be crazy for the House Republican leadership to enter into negotiations with them on immigration,” Representative Raul Labrador (R-ID) said at last week’s Conversations with Conservatives in response to a question from Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle.
Another conservative, Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC), added in an interview with a Greenville reporter: “I think there is less trust now than in the three years I’ve been here. So when I hear the president say immigration reform is coming next? No, it’s not.”
They aren’t alone. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), asked about Labrador’s comments on “Fox News Sunday,” told host Chris Wallace it would be hard to negotiate a deal because the White House has proven that it cannot keep its word:
You have a government and a White House that has consistently decided to ignore the law or how to apply it. Look at the health care law. The law is on the books. They decide which parts to apply and which parts not to apply. They issue their own waivers without any congressional oversight. And what they say is, you’re going to pass an immigration law that has both some legalization aspect and some enforcement. What’s not to say that this White House will come back and cancel the enforcement aspects of it? And that’s what he means by lack of trust. And quite frankly, it’s difficult to find a good answer to that.
Rubio said the House needs time to look more carefully at immigration before anything is done:
The fact of the matter is the House and many of its members have very strong opinions on what a reform effort should look like, and without them on board there won’t be reform. So I think many Democrats are going to have to make the decision about immigration. Do they want this as a political talking point or are they looking for a result? And if they are looking for a result, they’re going to have to show a little more flexibility.
>>> Watch Rubio’s comments on Fox News Sunday: