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John Boehner, Anti-Immigrant Scrooge of the Year

Imagine 2050 Staff • Dec 23, 2013

While looking back on 2013 and celebrating the myriad successes immigrant rights advocates achieved – amidst a year of misleading reports and the creation of new front groupsto divide communities – one must recognize the power democracy has to bring us together. There are, however, still some that wish to undermine our democracy. So, to continue an annual tradition at Imagine2050, we recognize those working against the United States continuing on its path of inclusivity as “Scrooge of the Year.” This year that honor goes to the Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-OH). Congratulations, Mr. Speaker.

House Speaker John Boehner

Since the Senate paved the way for an overhaul of our country’s immigration laws in June, Boehner has overseen an unprecedented measure of inactivity by the House on the issue. There are certainly enough House Republican votes to support the passage of reforms. However, by leaning on the so-called Hastert Rule, Boehner has been beholden to a fringe group of far-right Republicans led by anti-immigrant stalwart Rep. Steve King of Iowa. “I strongly believe that only bad can come from passing anything out of the House that has to do with immigration,” King recently said. Based on his role in overseeing this legislative obstruction, it seems the House Speaker agrees.

Immigration is by no means the only issue Boehner has opted to not act on this year. Under Boehner’s leadership, the 113th Congress is on track to be the least productive ever. To Boehner this statistic is somehow a badge of honor. “The House has continued to listen to the American people and to focus on their concerns… we’ve done our work,” Boehner told reporters earlier this month. That work, of course, included October’s government shutdown.

In an odd twist, Boehner’s actions this year aren’t just affecting those hoping to see Congress pass meaningful immigration reforms. The organized anti-immigrant movement who has stood alongside and supported Rep. King’s obstruction efforts is fed up with the House Speaker as well. By hiring experienced immigration advisor Rebecca Tallent earlier this month, those opposing any reform to immigration see the slight possibility of such as Boehner selling out.

It certainly takes a Scrooge to unite both immigration activists and nativists in their disapproval of someone’s work.

Congress is now home for the holidays. As Speaker Boehner and his colleagues enjoy the season with their families, immigrant families and communities continue to be divided by current policies. When Congress reconvenes in January, let us all hope that Boehner – like Ebenezer Scrooge – has a change of heart and uses his leadership role to advance reforms that the country supports. Please Mr. Speaker, next year can we have less “bah, humbug!” and more democracy? The American people deserve it.

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