The president cannot convince him, moderate Republicans haven't succeeded, but two teens walked into a diner Wednesday hoping they could change the speaker's mind on immigration reform.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, thought he was in for a quiet breakfast at his Capitol Hill favorite, Pete's Diner. Instead of just coffee, he got an earful from two young women urging him to push for comprehensive immigration reform now.
Carmen Lima, 13, and Jennifer Martinez, 16, had hoped to get a meeting with Boehner at his congressional office, but when the young women were denied, they took matters into their own hands. As part of the FAIR Immigration Reform Movement's efforts to lobby lawmakers in the final weeks of the year for comprehensive reform, Martinez and Lima knew there was one spot where Boehner might be able to make some time – during his breakfast at Pete's.
"We had no idea if he would actually be there," says Donna De La Cruz, a spokeswoman for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, a group that advocates for immigration reform. "We knew from reading profiles of Boehner that when he is in town, that is his spot. There were three or four stories that mentioned that he always goes to Pete's Diner. The girls took a chance, they went there, and a few minutes later, he came in."
During the interaction, Lima told the story of how she nearly lost her father to deportation.
"How would you feel if you had to tell your kids at the age of 10 that you were never coming home," she asked Boehner. "That is what happened to me. I thought I was never going to see my dad again. I cried so hard."
Boehner stared forward, then said, "I am trying to find some way to get this thing done. It's, as you know, not easy."
Martinez followed up as Boehner stared ahead and salted his breakfast.
"Many kids miss out on years with their parents and families. You said you were a father. Imagine missing out on your kids' sports games," she said.
"I agree with you," Boehner said before his final "thanks."
Boehner has yet to bring an immigration bill to the floor and has repeatedly stated he won't bring the Senate bill, which passed in June, up for a vote.
Wednesday during his press conference Boehner put another nail in the coffin.
"We have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill," Boehner said.
Advocates for reform on the Hill are worried. Many are convinced Boehner has made up his mind. But reminders lurk around every corner.
"Go to any restaurant within 10 miles of the Capitol and you are going to run into working immigrants there. His life is impacted by immigrants," says one Democratic House aide. "I mean where does he take his shirts?"