Boehner praises Cantor policy address but declines to endorse Dream Act

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) praised House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s wide-ranging policy address but stopped short of joining his endorsement of granting citizenship to undocumented immigrant students who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents.

“I thought Eric did a very nice job yesterday, pointing out that while there’s an awful lot of discussion about the deficit and the debt in our long-term fiscal situation, there are other issues that Republicans care about that are consistent with our principles,” Boehner said at a Capitol press conference on Wednesday. “But he did a very good job.”

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In a Tuesday speech at the American Enterprise Institute, Cantor (R-Va.) sought to recast the Republican Party’s image by highlighting policies on education, healthcare and immigration that, he argued, would make life work better for families.

The address included an endorsement of the outlines of the Dream Act, a measure that President Obama has long advocated. The Dream Act offers citizenship to students who were brought to the U.S. illegally but did not themselves commit a crime.

“One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents,” Cantor said. “It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and who know no other home.”

The Dream Act is expected to be included in any comprehensive immigration reform measure now under discussion in the House and Senate, but Boehner would not explicitly endorse it when asked on Wednesday.

He suggested he did not want to say anything that would jeopardize the fragile bipartisan working groups on immigration.

“There are a lot of members with a lot of good ideas, and there’s a lot of bipartisan work going on here in the House and bipartisan work going on in the Senate,” Boehner said, “and I want to do everything I can to foster continuing conversations in a bipartisan fashion to deal with what is a very difficult issue in our country. But it is certainly worthy of consideration.”