During a wide-ranging onstage interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Saturday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) made a plea for the children of undocumented immigrants to gain citizenship.
The Senate passed a sweeping immigration bill on Thursday, and the pressure to make or break the issue of reform has passed to the House -- where any immigration measure will most likely be much harder to pass.
"The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes," [Speaker John] Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters, speaking shortly before the Senate bill passed. "We're going to do our own bill, through regular order."
Not only will that legislation have to go through the entire committee process in the House, whatever emerges will have to meet the "Hastert rule," named after former Speaker Denny Hastert (R-Ill.), which says the majority of the party in control of the House must back a given measure for it to receive a vote by the full chamber.
Against this backdrop, Cantor voiced his support for a DREAM Act-like provision as part of immigration reform.
"I hope strongly that the kids who are brought here as minors because their parents brought them -- for no other reason -- and they find themselves here in a country that says they don't belong," Cantor said.
"Certainly we ought to have the compassion to say these kids shouldn't be kids without a country, and we ought to allow them the life that they deserve."
Cantor first said in February that he believes the children of undocumented immigrants should have a pathway to citizenship, though he had voted against the DREAM Act three years prior.
Cantor also took a jab at the idea of "self-deportation" on Saturday, a phrase recently popularized by Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential primaries.
"I can tell you, I don't think many people would ever say -- although some have -- that you're going to deport 11 or 12 million people, or that they're going to self-deport," Cantor said. "That's just not happening."
Watch the full interview above.
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