WASHINGTON U.S. House Republican leaders will outline their principles for immigration reform at a party meeting this week, House Speaker John Boehner said on Tuesday.
Immigration reform advocates, who saw their hopes dashed in 2013 for major legislation, have been waiting for the House Republican leadership to take such a step.
Boehner did not give any details of the principles, nor did he promise specific legislative action in the near term.
"We're going to outline our standards, principles of immigration reform and have a conversation with members," Boehner told a news conference after a party meeting near the U.S. Capitol.
"Once we talk to our members, we'll have more to say about how we move forward," Boehner said.
Boehner told his rank-and-file party members earlier this month that the party leaders were getting ready to lay out a framework for immigration reform.
Last year began on a similarly upbeat note after President Barack Obama cruised to re-election the previous November with the support of more than 70 percent of Hispanic voters, who have been clamoring for immigration reform.
The Democratic-run Senate last June passed a sweeping immigration bill that would give millions of undocumented immigrants a pathway to U.S. citizenship. The legislation has languished in the House, where Republicans have the majority.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, a supporter of overhauling U.S. immigration laws, said Democrats looked forward to seeing the Republican principles and getting a chance to vote on immigration reform.
"We are very hopeful, and we urge our Republican colleagues to bring to the floor that which they support," Hoyer told reporters.
Senior Republican aides have said the House does not plan to pass a comprehensive bill like the Senate did. Instead, House Republicans will approach the subject "step by step," they say.
They have said the immigration reform framework could discuss the need for better U.S. border controls and beefing up interior security so that companies cannot easily hire undocumented workers.
Perhaps the most challenging principle to be addressed is what to do about the 11 million immigrants already in the United States illegally, many brought here as children.
And while Republicans are interested in getting more votes from Latinos, some Republicans fear that raising the controversial issue in a mid-term congressional election year could put unnecessary strains on the party.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Andrew Hay)