House Speaker John Boehner’s breakfast was interrupted this morning by Carmen Lima, 13, and Jennifer Martinez, 16, two young immigration activists who wanted the powerful congressional leader to hear their families stories of immigration hardship.
Boehner was eating at Pete’s Diner, his regular breakfast place of choice in D.C., when he was approached by the two teens from the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, a pro-immigration reform group.
Lima explained how she has not seen her deported father since she was 10.
“So how would you feel if you had to tell your kids at the age of ten that you were never coming home?” Lima asked him in a video posted to YouTube by Change Nation, a branch of the Center for Community Change, which also houses the Fair Immigration Reform Movement.
“Well, I’m trying to find some way to get this thing done,” Boehner, R-Ohio, responded. “It’s, uh, you know, not easy, not going to be an easy path forward. But I’ve made it clear since the day after the election that it’s time to get this done.”
After Boehner, who was wearing a baseball cap and jeans, politely denied Lima and Martinez’s invitation to share a table for breakfast, the two girls told the congressman their families’ stories as he sat at the diner’s counter and was served his first meal of the day.
Despite the congressman’s words, progress may be slower than these immigration advocates and their supporters hope. At a post-breakfast news conference at the Capitol, Boehner told reporters, “We’ve made it clear that we’re going to move on a common-sense step-by-step approach in terms of how we deal with immigration.”
But the immigration overhaul bill that passed the Senate earlier this year might not be going anywhere in the House. “We have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill,” Boehner told reporters.
Donna De La Cruz, deputy communications director of the Center for Community Change, told ABC News that they support the Senate bill while possibly shortening the timeline for a pathway to citizenship.
“We would like to see more than just words,” De La Cruz said. “We would like him to actually bring it to the floor. I mean, it’s one thing to say it, but we would really want this brought to the floor this year.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also responded via Twitter this morning to Boehner’s breakfast comments that overhaul is “not easy.”
“Actually it is easy, @SpeakerBoehner,” Pelosi tweeted. “With 190 cosponsors on H.R.15 and 28 Rs vowing support, we have the votes to pass #immigration reform.”
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) November 13, 2013
More than 40 children, including Carmen and Jennifer, are in D.C. this week for events organized by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, including a procession to the Capitol. The group requested a meeting with Speaker Boehner, but was denied.
“The kids just really wanted to talk to him,” De La Cruz said, “and tell him their stories.”
ABC News’ John Parkinson contributed to this report.