A comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally is "highly unlikely" to pass the Republican-majority House of Representatives, Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Price, the vice chair of the House Budget Committee, said.
During a Christian Science Monitor breakfast meeting Wednesday, a reporter asked Price if a majority of House members could support a path to legality for immigrants similar to the provision in the bill currently moving through the Senate.
"I think at this point, that would be highly unlikely," Price said. "Because I don't think there's a trust of our conference in the administration to enforce the current laws that are on the books as they relate to much of immigration. And not just this administration—it has been previous administrations as well."
Price, who opposes the comprehensive approach taken in the Senate—which combines enhanced border security with a path to legality—pointed to the failure of the comprehensive immigration reform bill signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. Despite promises at the time that the law would end the flow of illegal immigration, millions still reside in the United States outside the bounds of the law.
Price said that the Obama administration would need to prove that it can enforce current laws before he would consider supporting new comprehensive legislation. In the meantime, Price said he would rather Congress take a piecemeal approach.
"There's no trust at all. The first step in regaining that trust is living up to the promise that was made to the nation back in 1986, and that is controlling and securing the border," Price said. "So until the administration is able to do that, I don't think that there's any trust that whatever could pass would be enforced or made certain that it would work in a positive way."
The Senate Judiciary Committee in May approved its own immigration bill, which supporters hope will receive a vote by the full chamber by July 4. A bipartisan group of House members are still negotiating a version for the lower chamber.
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, one of the lead architects of the Senate bill, will attend a meeting of conservative House members to discuss the bill on Wednesday.