US & Canada

Republican John Boehner doubts immigration deal

Republican House Speaker John Boehner says his party has all but ruled out passing immigration legislation before November's midterm elections.

Mr Boehner blamed the inaction on scepticism that US President Barack Obama would properly enforce such reforms.

The Democratic president has made immigration a top domestic priority.

Mr Boehner's comments come one week after his party announced broad new immigration principles.

'Difficult to move'

"The American people, including many of our members, don't trust that the reform we're talking about will be implemented as it was intended to be," Mr Boehner told reporters on Thursday.

"There's widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws," he added.

"And it's going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes."

The Republican leader was referring to Mr Obama's recent public pledges to use his executive authority to bypass a gridlocked, highly partisan Congress.

The White House responded to Mr Boehner's comments, saying they "don't have anything to do with the president" and "the challenges within the Republican Party on this issue are well-known".

Republicans have recently made a concerted effort to appeal to the swiftly growing bloc of Hispanic voters, who have largely voted Democrat in recent years.

No 'special path'

But the issue has also threatened to anger the more conservative members of the party in the lead-up to November's elections.

Mr Boehner and other House Republican leaders circulated a list of contentious immigration reform proposals on 30 January.

The plan included legal status for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the US illegally, tougher border security and a chance of citizenship for children brought to the country without papers.

The document, described as a statement of principles, backed a mechanism for "people who are living and working here illegally to come forward and get right with the law", but without a "special path to citizenship".

Analysts say that vague statement would set the Republicans against a Democratic-backed Senate bill, which seeks to create a way for undocumented immigrants to pay fines and eventually gain citizenship.

The following day, Mr Obama suggested he would be open to an immigration overhaul that would not provide a special path to citizenship for most illegal migrants.

But he said he favours legislation that includes such a measure.

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