Boehner on Immigration: ‘There’s a Lot of Education That Needs to Be Done’

By Patrick Burke | March 19, 2013 | 12:23 PM EDT

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). (AP)

( -- Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) said “there’s a lot of education” that needs to take place before House members can attempt to implement immigration reform but he did not say whether he supported a "pathway to citizenship" for illegal aliens.

At a Capitol Hill press conference on Tuesday, a reporter asked Boehner, “Mr. Speaker, yesterday the RNC [Republican National Committee] recommended that the Republican Party embrace comprehensive immigration reform. What do you think of the recommendation, what do you think specifically of those calling for a pathway towards citizenship?”

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Boehner responded, “I made clear the day after the election that dealing with immigration reform was a top priority -- and it is. Last week, the senior leaders met with our four members who have been meeting with four Democrats now for over four years. And they’re essentially in agreement over how to proceed.”

He continued, “But this is just the beginning of the process. There’s a lot of education that needs to be done because more than half of our members have never dealt with the issue of immigrationreform  both on the legal side and on the illegal side.”

“So there’s a lot of education that needs to go on,” Boehner said. “We’ve helped lay out a process for them to bring our members along, to help them understand the issue. We’ve got a lot more work to do.”

When asked whether he supports a “pathway to citizenship” for illegal aliens presently in the United States, Boehner did not answer directly but said, “There’s a lot of issues in here that have to be dealt with. And I think what this bipartisan group came up with is frankly a pretty responsible solution.” reported on Feb. 5 that Boehner dodged a question on whether he personally supported a “pathway to citizenship” for illegal aliens.

A Capitol Hill reporter asked Boehner, “Do you personally believe there should be a path to citizenship like [Senator Marco] Rubio (R-Fl.) described in his bill?”

Boehner said, “I think this is [the] very difficult part of any of these bills. And I’m going to just encourage members on both sides of the Capitol and both parties to continue to try to come to some resolution of that issue.”

On Jan. 28, a bipartisan group of eight Senators – the Gang of 8 -- including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) introduced a plan that would give “probationary legal status” to illegal immigrants currently living in the United States.  Once granted “probationary legal status,” individuals can eventually apply for a green card.

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