Meet the Young Activists Who Confronted Boehner on Immigration

Speaker of the House John Boehner killed immigration reform today. But before he did that, he was confronted by two young DREAMers while he was having breakfast at a Capitol Hill diner.

When the two teenage girls asked the Ohio Republican about immigration reform, he said he was “trying to find some way to get this thing done.”

Hours later, he told reporters there was no chance the House of Representatives would negotiate on a comprehensive immigration bill that passed in the Senate this summer. That effectively ends any chance of immigration reform this year, and jeopardizes the fate of a bill in 2014.

The two activists, 16-year-old Jennifer Martinez and 13-year-old Carmen Lima, spoke with Jorge Ramos on Wednesday night about the confrontation with Boehner.

“He just kept reiterating the fact that, you know, ‘I’ve put a lot of effort into this, since Election Day that’s been one of my biggest priorities,” Martinez said. “So, you know, his reiteration of that fact made me think that, ‘Hey, maybe this guy’s an ally.”

“Although what happened after he talked to you was that he basically killed immigration reform for this year,” Ramos responded.

Lima is a DREAMer — she was born in Toluca, Mexico, and is growing up in San Diego, California, without legal immigration status. She’s too young to apply for an Obama-administration program that gives deportation relief to qualifying undocumented young people.

Martinez lives in Seattle, Washington, with her parents, who are undocumented immigrants. She lives with the knowledge that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could take her parents into custody at any time.

“They basically could, at this moment, be deported, if that was something that ICE felt like doing,” she said.

The pair came to Washington, D.C., for an action organized by the Center for Community Change. They said they were still hopeful about immigration reform, even if Speaker Boehner is abandoning it this year.

“This fight has been going on for longer than I’ve been alive and it will continue because it isn’t a movement about legal status,” Martinez said. “It’s a movement about basically human rights, you know. The right to have a family and stay to together, the right to an education, the right to be treated humanely.”

She dismissed the idea that John Boehner can single-handed take down immigration reform.

“It’s not going to die just because one man said, ‘We’re not going to vote on it this year.’”

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