Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered to make 2017 the effective date for an immigration overhaul Thursday so Republicans no longer can use President Barack Obama as an excuse not to pass a bill — and set an August deadline for the House to act.
“Let’s pass immigration reform today. Make it take effect in 2017. Republicans don’t trust President Obama,” Reid said. “Let’s give them a chance to approve the bill under President Rand Paul or President Theodore Cruz. To be clear, delaying implementation of immigration reform is not my preference. But I feel so strongly that this bill needs to get done, I’m willing to show flexibility.”
House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, has repeatedly said that most Republicans want to act on immigration but don’t trust the president to enforce the law — a view he repeated again Thursday.
Reid warned that if Republicans don’t take the offer and pass a bill by August, President Barack Obama would go as far as he could to act on his own.
“If they don’t take our offer, then we’re going to have to go to the second step, which is not my preference,” Reid said. “Administrative rules cannot trump legislation but we’re going to have to do what we have to do as we proved with DACA,” he said, referring to Obama’s program to grant deportation relief and work permits to young illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children.
Reid’s offer of a 2017 effective date mirrors a suggestion that had been made by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.
In the press conference with Reid, Schumer, Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., and Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., Schumer suggested there was a six-week window for action after Republican primaries on June 10 and before the August break.
Schumer was asked about Republican response to 2017 compromise after the press conference and he said, “We haven’t gotten yes and we haven’t gotten a no.”
Schumer also put the kibosh on smaller immigration patches, like the ENLIST Act that would allow young illegal immigrants to get legal status by signing up for the military.
“We are not going to go along with minor fixes that fail to address the huge systematic problems in our immigration system today,” Schumer said. “If the oil is leaking in your car, your muffler has a whole in it and you have a flat tire, you don’t change the windshield wipers. But that’s what they want to do with this ENLIST Act. Republicans are barely even considering that but it doesn’t even scratch the surface of our immigration system. We support giving those that serve in the military the opportunity to earn citizenship, but we also want to fix our agriculture worker programs, secure our borders … and provide a pathway for the 11 million that live in the shadows.”
The senators’ threats come as House Republicans continued Thursday to demand a public display of trust-building from the president before they take up any changes to the immigration system.