WASHINGTON House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said he expects an overhaul of immigration rules to become law by the end of the year, but that the Senate's version "doesn't go far enough" to secure the U.S. border with Mexico or enforce the proposed new system.
"I've got real concerns about the Senate bill, especially in the area of border security and internal enforcement of the system. I'm concerned that it doesn't go far enough," Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, told ABC in an interview that aired on Tuesday.
Boehner added that reforming the nation's immigration system was his top legislative priority this year.
"I think by the end of the year we could have a bill," he told ABC. Asked if that bill would be one to also pass the Democrat-led Senate and be signed into law by President Barack Obama, Boehner said: "No question."
Boehner did not answer a question on whether the House Republican version of the legislation would support a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the United States, a provision included in the Senate bill which many Republicans criticize as providing amnesty.
The speaker's comments come as the Senate prepares to take its first floor vote on the issue this week, with a final vote on the overall bill expected by late June. The Senate bill also calls for billions of dollars in new spending for enhanced border security and new visa programs for high- and low-skilled workers.
Obama, a Democrat, will also try to drum up support for immigration reform later on Tuesday in a speech expected to highlight the proposed law's economic and national security benefits.
(This story has been corrected to change to immigrants, not workers, in paragraph five)
(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Additional reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Vicki Allen)