WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 (UPI) --
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in Washington that House Speaker John Boehner was on the immigration reform hot seat this year.
Bloomberg said Congress needed to pass immigration reform this year for economic reasons, and that meant Boehner would have to get his sometimes recalcitrant troops behind the controversial measure.
He (Boehner) has been around a long time, Bloomberg said.
He's got a tough hand, but that's what leadership is all about. If he wants to get it done in the House, he'll get it done.
Bloomberg said during an appearance Friday at the National Press Club that immigration reform was a necessary maneuver for improving the U.S. economy because it would allow skilled workers and entrepreneurs from overseas to bring their talents to the United States.
Without immigration, we don't have a future, Bloomberg said.
Politico said Bloomberg seemed to assure Boehner that passing legislation on the volatile issue might not be as difficult as anticipated. He characterized opponents of immigration reform as vocal, but small in number.
In the day of social media it looks like millions of people are behind them when it's really some kid with a computer, Bloomberg said.
Politico said conservative groups inside the Washington Beltway responded quickly by insisting that immigration reform not be turned into an amnesty for illegal immigrants or allowing some immigrants to be given a free pass toward U.S. citizenship.