Wis. representatives, senators react to Obama’s immigration comments


WASHINGTON – President Obama said he’s done waiting for House Republicans to act on immigration. He now plans to use executive action and address the issue on his own.

The congressmen and senators representing Northeast Wisconsin have multiple views on the issue. Both parties are also blaming each other for the current situation.

Obama said Monday there are enough Republicans and Democrats in the House to pass an immigration bill, but the president said House Speaker John Boehner informed him last week that the House won’t vote on immigration this year.

“Protecting public safety and deporting dangerous criminals has been and will remain the top priority, but we are going to refocus our efforts where we can to make sure we do what it takes to keep our borders secure,” said Obama.

By the end of this summer, the president wants Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to give him options for what executive actions he could take.

“This was all about politics today,” said Rep. Reid Ribble.

Ribble, a Republican from the eighth congressional district, said he’s willing to work with the president on immigration issues, but it isn’t happening.

“I didn’t count how many times he said House Republicans in his speech, while saying he’s not politicizing it, but his entire speech was about politics,” he said. “And so if the president really wanted to work with us, he could respond to letters I’ve spent him wanting to talk about immigration reform.”

Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin agrees with the president. In a statement, she said House Republicans are in the way, and now is the time to pass immigration reform.

The immigration issue is getting more attention because U.S. Border Patrol said it has apprehended more than 52,000 child immigrants since October.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson believes President Obama’s action would increase the incentive for illegal immigration. In a statement, he said any executive action would make the situation worse.

Rep. Ribble said the president should make sure current laws are enforced.

“The president’s refused to secure the border when he’s had every right to do so,” he said. “In fact, it’s a constitutionally responsibility of the President of the United States to defend the nation’s borders.”

But Ribble said he would support President Obama’s executive actions involving immigration policy if it’s within the framework of the law.

Rep. Tom Petrti, a Republican from the sixth congressional district, said fixing immigration issues will require much more than executive action.

He also said it is difficult to pass an immigration bill because some representatives don’t believe President Obama would enforce the law.

The president said he’ll continue to push Congress to act.

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