WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday that he doubted the House could pass the DREAM Act-type proposal put forward by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
"I did talk to Sen. Rubio about his idea and he gave me some particulars about how this would work. I found it of interest," Boehner said during a press conference. "But the problem with this issue is that we're operating in a very hostile political environment. To deal with a very difficult issue like this, I think it would be difficult at best."
Under Rubio's proposal, which has yet to be drafted, undocumented immigrants who came into the United States as children would be allowed to stay in the country if they kept a clean criminal record and joined the military or attended college. But unlike the Democratic-sponsored Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, Rubio's plan wouldn't provide people with a path to citizenship, which immigrant rights groups say defeats the purpose of the issue.
During his press event, Boehner took a shot at President Barack Obama for not doing more on immigration reform.
"Let me ask this question. The president of the United States runs around the country doing speeches ... about immigration. Where's the president's immigration plan? Where does the president stand on this issue?" Boehner asked. "Instead of campaigning all the time, maybe he ought to come back to Washington and go to work."
The reality, though, is that Republicans have arguably been the biggest obstacle to moving forward on immigration reform. Senate Republicans who previously signed onto immigration reform bills have backed away since Obama took office, and in the House, Boehner himself has chalked up Democratic efforts to jump-start the issue as little more than politics.
Boehner said in April 2010 that an effort by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to build GOP support for an immigration bill was "nothing more than a cynical ploy to try to engage voters -- some segment of voters -- to show up in this November's elections." At the same event, Boehner also said there wasn't "a chance" that Congress could tackle the issue that year and, because of Americans' focus on job creation, coming up with a solution for addressing the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the country is "not where the American people are."
Rubio's proposal has caught the interest of some in both parties, however. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in December that he would veto the Democratic-sponsored DREAM Act if it landed on his desk as president. But in the case of Rubio's proposal, he said there are "many features to commend it." It's worth noting that Rubio has endorsed Romney and that his name has been floated as a possible running mate.
On Wednesday, the Florida senator also met privately with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to talk to them about his proposal.