WASHINGTON (AP)— House Republicans are embracing a step-by-step approach to immigration, in contrast to the sweeping plan passed by the Senate and backed by the White House. But they’re offering neither specifics nor a timetable — nor any mention of possible citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country unlawfully.
Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other Republican leaders said in a statement the administration “cannot be trusted to deliver on its promises to secure the border and enforce laws as part of a single, massive bill like the one passed by the Senate.”
House GOP lawmakers streaming out of a two-hour meeting on immigration Wednesday also shrugged off a long-distance nudge from former President George W. Bush, who called on Congress to reach a “positive resolution” on the issue.
“America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time,” Bush said at a naturalization ceremony at his presidential library in Dallas.
“We care what people back home say, not what some former president says,” declared Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan.
President Barack Obama is to meet Thursday with two authors of the Senate measure, John McCain, R-Ariz., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in the Oval Office.
The Republican meeting in the Capitol was arranged as a listening session for the House GOP, their first such session since the Senate approved far-reaching legislation last month on a bipartisan vote of 68-32.
Lawmakers said afterward there was support for a bill to create a path to citizenship for immigrants who were brought to the country as children illegally by family members, an idea advanced by Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.
Several members of the rank and file said Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., had made a particularly strong appeal for a comprehensive approach, which includes possible citizenship for the 11 million.