WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are starting to lay the blame on President Barack Obama if an overhaul of the nation's broken immigration system fails to become law.
The GOP's emerging plan on immigration is to criticize Obama as an untrustworthy leader and his administration as an unreliable enforcer of any laws that might be passed. Perhaps realizing the odds of finding a consensus on immigration are long, the Republicans have started telling voters that if the GOP-led House doesn't take action this election year, it is Obama's fault.
"If the president had been serious about this the last five years, we'd be further along in this discussion," Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, said Sunday.
House Republicans last week unveiled a road map for an overhaul of the nation's broken immigration system that calls for increased border security, better law enforcement within the U.S. and a pathway to legal status — but not citizenship — for millions of adults who live in America unlawfully. The proposal requires those here illegally to pay back taxes and fines.
But one of its backers, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, said distrust of Obama poisons interest among some in his Republican caucus.
"Here's the issue that all Republicans agree on: We don't trust the president to enforce the law," said Ryan, his party's vice presidential nominee in 2012.
Ryan said a plan that puts security first could only pass the House if lawmakers believe the administration would enforce it — an unlikely prospect given Republicans' deep opposition to Obama. The president's waivers for provisions in his 4-year-old health care law have increased suspicions among Republicans.
"This isn't a trust-but-verify, this is a verify-then-trust approach," Ryan said.
Asked whether immigration legislation would make its way to Obama for him to sign into law, Ryan said he was skeptical: "I really don't know the answer to that question. That is clearly in doubt."