WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) hedged on Wednesday when asked whether he agrees with his number two, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), that undocumented young people should be given a pathway to citizenship, but said he was open to discussing the idea.
"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 told reporters at a press conference. "I want to do everything I can to foster this continuing conversation in a bipartisan fashion to deal with what is a very difficult issue in our country. But it's certainly worthy of consideration."
Both Boehner and Cantor voted in 2010 against the Dream Act. The measure would give legal status and eventual citizenship to undocumented immigrants -- often called Dreamers -- who entered the United States as children, provided they attended college or joined the military and met other requirements.
But now, as Washington considers wider legalization for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., some prior opponents of the bill seem to be softening to the idea of a Dream Act-like provision as part of reform.
Cantor said during a speech on Tuesday that addressing undocumented youth would be "a good place to start" immigration reform.
"One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents," he said of immigration reform at the American Enterprise Institute. "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."
A bipartisan framework for immigration reform announced last week by the Senate "gang of eight" would address undocumented young people in a different way than the undocumented population as a whole.
"[I]ndividuals who entered the United States as minor children did not knowingly choose to violate any immigration laws," the framework reads. "Consequently, under our proposal these individuals will not face the same requirements as other individuals in order to earn a path to citizenship."