WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner drew criticism from left and right Friday over comments mocking his own Republican lawmakers for their reluctance to take up immigration legislation, rekindling election-year debate on the contentious issue even as President Obama weighs acting on his own.
Boehner said at a Rotary Club lunch at home in Ohio Thursday that House Republicans don’t have the appetite to deal with immigration because it’s too tough. He imitated them whining in protest, ‘‘Ohh don’t make me do this, ohh this is too hard.’’
Latino advocates and Capitol Hill Democrats responded with derision, saying it’s Boehner’s job as leader of the House to bring the issue to a vote, not to blame others. ‘‘He’s acting like he’s not the speaker of the House,’’ said Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of America’s Voice, an immigration advocacy group.
Some conservatives also were not amused.
‘‘If he wants the Republican Conference to follow him on this issue, he needs to stand up for House Republicans, instead of catering to the media and special interest groups,’’ said Representative Raul Labrador, an Idaho Republican who’s been a leading voice in the House on immigration. ‘‘The problem is Obama, not House Republicans.’’