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Boehner comments on immigration draw fire

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WASHINGTON – House Speaker John Boehner drew criticism from left and right Friday over comments mocking his own Republican lawmakers for their reluctance to take up immigration legislation, rekindling election-year debate on the contentious issue even as President Barack Obama weighs acting on his own.

BOEHNER: Imitated Republicans whining

BOEHNER: Imitated Republicans whining

Boehner said at a Rotary Club lunch at home in Ohio on Thursday that House Republicans don’t have the appetite to deal with immigration because it’s too tough. He imitated them whining in protest, “‘Ohh, don’t make me do this; ohh, this is too hard.’”

Latino advocates and Capitol Hill Democrats responded with derision, saying it’s Boehner’s job as leader of the House to bring the issue to a vote, not to blame others. “He’s acting like he’s not the speaker of the House,” said Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of America’s Voice, an immigration advocacy group.

Some conservatives also were not amused.

“If he wants the Republican Conference to follow him on this issue, he needs to stand up for House Republicans, instead of catering to the media and special interest groups,” said Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, who’s been a leading voice in the House on immigration. “The problem is Obama, not House Republicans.”

Boehner’s comments come as comprehensive immigration legislation remains stalled in the House 10 months after Senate passage and election-year pressure grows on Obama to take steps on his own to stem deportations and address the estimated 11 million immigrants living in this country illegally.

Obama has sought to keep the pressure on the House for at least a while longer.

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