House GOP plans immigration 'principles'

House Republican leaders plan to release a draft of immigration reform “principles” in the coming weeks as the next step in a process that could lead to floor votes on legislation, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told lawmakers in a private meeting Wednesday morning.

In the party’s first full conference meeting of the year, the Speaker told members to expect “a standards or principles document” on immigration that would reflect the input that the leadership and committee chairmen have received from rank-and-file members, according to a person in the room.

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Immigration was also included in a slide presentation by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) listing legislative priorities for the year.

The development is the latest indication that House leaders want to take action on immigration, a top priority of President Obama and business leaders, but it also means that full legislation is unlikely to come to the floor anytime soon.

The Senate passed a comprehensive overhaul in June that included a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, but Boehner has vowed that the House will neither take up that bill nor enter into formal negotiations on it.

Many advocates for immigration reform want the House to act quickly, but some Republicans in favor of reform argue it would best to wait until the spring, after primary filing deadlines have passed.

Boehner has not been specific on what he wants to see out of immigration reform, but he has said repeatedly the issue needs to be addressed, and late last year he hired a well-known advocate of reform, Rebecca Tallent, to advise him on the issue.