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Boehner signals GOP shift on illegals

| Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:57 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Legislation offering citizenship to immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children is “about basic fairness,” House Speaker John Boehner said on Wednesday, pointing to an emerging consensus among House Republicans as they struggle for a way forward on immigration.

“These children were brought here of no accord of their own, and frankly they're in a very difficult position,” the Ohio Republican said. “And I think many of our members believe that this issue needs to be addressed.”

Boehner's comments at a news conference was made in response to a question about legislation being drafted by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., that would offer citizenship to certain immigrants brought here as children.

Details of the bill have not been made public, but Goodlatte's committee will hold a hearing on the issue next week.

“These in many instances are kids without a country if we don't allow them to become full citizens of our country,” Cantor said. “It is not only an issue of fairness, as the speaker said; it's an issue of decency and compassion. Where else would these kids go?”

Boehner and Cantor spoke as they and other GOP leaders weigh their options on immigration legislation after a special House Republican conference on the issue last week. During that meeting Boehner pledged not to bring comprehensive Senate-passed immigration to the House floor, and to proceed instead in a step-by-step fashion with individual bills, focusing first on border security.

There's little consensus among House Republicans about how to deal with the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally, who would get eventual citizenship under the Senate bill. That legislation also aims to boost border security and workplace enforcement and develop new legal means for hundreds of thousands of high- and low-skilled workers to come to this country.

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