Vice President Joe Biden renewed the administration's push for immigration reform Monday, saying legislation to legalize some of the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally would provide a "considerable shot in the arm" to the United States.
The vice president's remarks came at a Cinco de Mayo breakfast he hosted at the Naval Observatory, where about 100 lawmakers, advocates and representatives of the U.S. and Mexican governments had gathered. He ticked through a list of economic benefits he said would accompany broad reform legislation, including an increase in the gross domestic product (GDP), a reduction in the deficit and more money for the Social Security Trust.
His remarks were aimed in part at House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who seemed poised to offer a Republican response to the Senate's bipartisan immigration bill earlier this year, but ended up backing away when there was insufficient support among his conference. Boehner blames the president for the delay, saying his repeated use of executive action on a range of issues has bred mistrust among Republicans that he would enforce any immigration laws they might pass.
"The message is simple: we don't have to redouble our efforts, we have to redouble our demand that the House of Representatives takes up legislation that's going to match the strong bill that came out of the United States Senate," Biden said at the breakfast. "It's time for John--he's a good man, John Boehner--to stand up and other Republicans to stand up. Not for us to stand up...It's time for him to stand up, stand up at not let the minority--I think it's a minority--of the Republican Party in the House keep us from moving in a way that will change the circumstances for millions and millions of lives."
Boehner found himself in hot water last month after he mimicked House Republicans crying over the prospect of tackling immigration reform during a speech in his home district.
Last week, told reporters that there was no mocking, although, "you tease the ones you love." He reiterated that he believed that Americans' mistrust of the president was the biggest impediment to reform.
Biden has found himself in hot water for immigration remarks on the other end of the spectrum. At a speech to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in March, he said that 11 million undocumented immigrants, "are already Americans, in my view."
He defended those remarks at the Cinco de Mayo breakfast.
"They may not be citizens, but they are Americans," Biden said. "In the definition of Teddy Roosevelt, he said Americanism is not a question of birthplace or creed or line of descent, it's a question of principles, idealism, and character. And I would argue that those 11 million folks who have been here breaking their neck, working hard, they are Americans."