DHS head: GOP immigration principles 'serious step forward'

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Friday the Republican Party’s recent statement of principles on immigration is a “serious step forward” on reform.

“We need the additional border and port security resources that immigration reform legislation would provide. In this regard, the Republicans’ recent statement of principles on immigration is a serious step forward on immigration reform and contains a lot to work with,” Johnson said at the Wilson Center where he laid out his agenda. 

Johnson’s comment of possible reconciliation on the issue between Democrats and Republicans comes just a day after Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) appeared to put prospects of reform on hold because he doesn’t trust President Obama. 

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Boehner predicted Congress wouldn’t be able to pass reform in 2014 because the GOP has “widespread doubt” Obama would implement the legislation properly.

“There’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws,” Boehner said during a news conference at the Capitol on Thursday. “And it’s going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also voiced doubt this week Congress could strike an immigration deal this year. Last week, House Republicans unveiled their immigration principles at an annual retreat.

Obama called their proposals a step in the right direction, but added “there are still some differences.”

During a public Google Hangout Obama did last week, the president said he was “modestly optimistic” Congress could pass a reform bill this year.

Asked whether Obama would consider taking executive action on immigration if Congress failed to do so, he said “I’m going to look at all available options.”

On Friday, Johnson said he has already directed his deputy of homeland security to “coordinate the process” to implement such a law in case Congress passes one. 

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