- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

House Speaker John Boehner said after a recent meeting with President Obama that they agree immigration reform is a priority, and that any deal that includes a pathway to citizenship for illegals is not amnesty.

“Some want to call it amnesty,” Mr. Boehner told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I reject that premise. … If you come in and plead guilty and pay a fine, that’s not amnesty.”

However, Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Jeff Sessions of Alabama both contend that previous House immigration ideas pushed by GOP leadership that allow for illegals to obtain U.S. citizenship are indeed amnesty plans.

For instance, the House Republican “Standards for Immigration Reform” released last month opens the door for speedy citizenship for children of parents who are in the country illegally, and issues unclear direction on how to deal with illegals who may already be working in the country, the senators argue.

Mr. Sessions distributed a “Myth vs. Fact” document around the House to counter what he called GOP leadership spin on immigration reform. The document claims “any plan that provides special privileges to those who are in the country today but does not extend the same privileges to those coming into the country illegally tomorrow is amnesty.”

Mr. Boehner’s post-meeting statements with Mr. Obama about the importance of passing immigration reform before the end of the year raise questions about which side will win the debate. Mr. Obama has previously said he would not sign any bill that doesn’t open doors for citizenship for illegals, as Republican senators such as Mr. Cruz and Mr. Sessions vow to halt any amnesty measure.

In between stands Mr. Boehner, who maintains that he and the president are in accord when it comes to recognizing the issue as a top priority.

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