In another indication that Republicans will have a hard time eating into the Democrats’ advantage with Hispanic voters, House Speaker John Boehner subtly warned Republicans: There’s no way we can pass a modified version of the DREAM Act now.
“There’s always hope,” Boehner said. “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. But the problem with this issue is that we’re operating in a very hostile political environment and to deal with a very difficult issue like this I think it would be difficult at best.”
Republican opposition to the DREAM Act, and their filibuster of DREAM Act legislation in 2010, have hurt the GOP’s standing with Hispanic voters. Mitt Romney and Rubio want to undo some of that damage with a more limited version of the plan, one that would provide legal residency — but not citizenship — to some illegal immigrants who serve in the military.
“Speaker Boehner’s comments show how far Sen. Rubio has to go in trying to gain Republican support for any proposal to help immigrant students,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the No. 3 Senate Democrat, said in a statement. “Sen. Rubio should be commended for trying to advance the conversation, but he is likely to find his party unwilling to abandon its hardline, anti-immigrant stance.”
Boehner’s response also represents a candid admission that his members aren’t on the same page — and suggests Romney et al will have a hard time convincing voters that the GOP writ large is on the right side of this issue.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.