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Immigration Reform Would Help US Economy, Says House Speaker John Boehner: 'Sooner We Do It, The Better'

First Posted: Sep 22, 2014 11:59 AM EDT
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The House of Representatives has not passed an immigration reform bill, but Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-OH, said legislation would help the country's economy.

Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute to deliver a "five-point plan for resetting America's economic foundation," Boehner's plan did not mention immigration or reforms of the system. During the question and answer session, Boehner was asked if he agreed with President Barack Obama and his administration's claim that immigration reform is key to U.S. economic growth. Boehner said he agreed with Obama's statement.

"I think immigration reform would help our economy, but you've got to secure the borders first. We've got a mess. And I think everybody knows we have a mess," said Boehner. "Our legal system is broken. Our borders aren't secure. And then we've got the problem of those that are here without documents. It needs to be fixed. We're a nation of immigrants. The sooner we do it, the better off the country would be."

Boehner didn't elaborate on specific effects immigration reform would have on the country's economy. In a statement on June 30, Obama said immigration reform could produce economic growth and shrink the country's deficit.

"Our country and our economy would be stronger today if House Republicans had allowed a simple yes-or-no vote on this bill or, for that matter, any bill," Obama said during the June 30 speech from the White House Rose Garden. "They'd be following the will of the majority of the American people who support reform. Instead, they've proven again and again that they're unwilling to stand up to the tea party in order to do what's best for the country. And the worst part about it is a bunch of them know better."

According to the Congressional Budget Office, immigration reform would increase GDP by 3.3 percent by 2023. The GDP could also increase by 5.4 percent by 2033, approximately $1.4 trillion in today's dollar data.

The White House also released a report titled "The Economic Benefits of Fixing Our Broken Immigration System" in July 2013, which highlights other data about immigration's effects on the country's economy, including additional CBO data. The report, released shortly after the Senate passed the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act" (S. 744), noted the CBO found the Senate bill would reduce the federal budget deficit by approximately $850 billion over the next 20 years.

More than a year has passed since the Senate immigration reform bill passed, but it has not been debated or voted on by the House. Boehner previously stated immigration reform has not been discussed in the House because the American people "don't trust [Obama] to enforce the law as written."

Boehner said the House could debate immigration reform in 2015, but Obama may instead exercise his executive action in November. Obama was originally scheduled to take executive action on immigration in late August or early September, according to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. Obama said his decision for the delay was not politics but to ensure his action is "sustainable" and within legal his authority.

Speaker of the House John Boehner's Speech at the American Enterprise Institute:

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