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Boehner hits brakes on immigration overhaul

 

House Speaker John Boehner hit the brakes on immigration legislation on Thursday, saying it will be "difficult" to move any bill in the current climate -- comments that signal a rough road ahead for one of President Obama's top 2014 priorities. 

Obama had urged Congress to pass immigration reform during his State of the Union address last week. A glimmer of common ground appeared days later when, during the House Republican retreat, GOP leaders issued guidelines for what they would accept in a comprehensive immigration overhaul. The guidelines included a path to legal status for some illegal immigrants. 

But Boehner, under pressure from conservative rank-and-file members to slow things down, said Thursday that lawmakers remain concerned about the administration's willingness to enforce immigration law. 

"There's widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws, and it's going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes," Boehner said. 

The speaker said he'd continue to look for a way forward. 

"I have made clear for 15 months the need for the Congress and the administration to work together on the issue of immigration reform. It needs to get done. I'm going to continue to talk to my members about how to move forward but the president is going to have to do his part as well," he said. 

Though Boehner did not go so far in his remarks, senior Republican sources told Fox News that Boehner is effectively putting up a stop sign on immigration legislation. 

"Tap the brakes on immigration reform," one senior aide said. "Just don't say dead." 

Another said Boehner doesn't feel there is any way he can move a bill when significant "trust" issues remain between GOP lawmakers and the president. 

The remarks are a shift from the tone of the House GOP document released last week, which stressed that any immigration bill must strengthen security and enforcement, but opened the door to allowing some illegal immigrants to achieve legal status. Though many Democrats ultimately want illegal immigrants to get a path to citizenship, Obama and others indicated they'd be willing to negotiate. 

Boehner's comments now throw into doubt whether the White House can convince House Republicans to pursue a bill this year. 

The White House, though, made clear that it will continue to push Congress to act. 

"We remain optimistic about the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform in 2014," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Thursday. 

Fox News' Chad Pergram and Mike Emanuel contributed to this report. 

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