Idaho’s members of Congress appear hesitant to heed President Barack Obama’s call for a bipartisan solution to illegal immigration. Obama spoke Thursday in Washington, D.C., saying that politics have bogged down reform efforts.
“Reform has been held hostage to political posturing and special-interest wrangling — and to the pervasive sentiment in Washington that tackling such a thorny and emotional issue is inherently bad politics,” Obama said.
Obama outlined an immigration reform plan that included securing the U.S.’s southern border with Mexico, creating a guest worker program, and providing a pathway for people in the country illegally to gain legal status. The president acknowledged that blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants is unpopular, but said deporting millions of people in the U.S. would be “logistically impossible and wildly expensive.” Obama also repeated his criticism of an Arizona law that allows police to question anyone they think might be in the country illegally.
Idaho’s congressional delegation didn’t support Obama’s efforts. "Frankly, this country needs action on the immigration issue, not another speech," said Rep. Walt Minnick in a prepared statement. Minnick said the U.S. needs more troops to secure the southern border, or else more states will adopt laws like Arizona’s. “We have laws in this country and we expect people to respect those laws. That's why we must hold people accountable, whether it's those who come here illegally or employers who hire them."
Rep. Mike Simpson said that the House of Representatives won’t pass an immigration plan this year because of all the other large packages approved by the House. "It is clear to everyone but the president that Congress will not be taking up comprehensive immigration reform this year and his speech today did nothing to change that," Simpson said. "The American people overwhelmingly want Congress to focus on border security as its first immigration-related priority and we could do that right now. If President Obama is looking for someone to blame for comprehensive immigration reform not having a higher priority in Congress, he should start with himself. He is the one who forced members of his own party to walk the plank on stimulus, cap-and-trade, and healthcare and they're simply not going to walk the plank for him once more on immigration."
Sen. Mike Crapo’s spokesman, Lindsay Nothern said an immigration plan including amnesty is a non-starter, and that the lack of movement on immigration legislation in Congress is due to policy differences, not obstruction from Republicans. “Folks cannot benefit from the fact that they did something illegal to get into the country,” Nothern said.
Staff in Sen. Jim Risch’s office pointed to a page on his official website, where he comes out against amnesty. Risch also is in favor of securing our borders as well as a practical and workable program for legal immigration and workers.
Obama didn’t outline specific legislation in his speech. Idaho’s delegation and other members of Congress from across the country can discuss immigration ideas with their constituents — Congress is taking a 4th of July break that will last until July 12.