WASHINGTON — US House Speaker John Boehner expressed confidence Thursday that he and his Republicans can work with President Barack Obama in hammering out a comprehensive deal on immigration.
Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s tack to the right during his presidential campaign, particularly on immigration, was a key reason he lost the Hispanic vote by a wide margin in his defeat to Obama on Tuesday.
Now, with Republican soul-searching beginning in the aftermath of the election, immigration is seen as one way to frame the Republican Party as more inclusive of Latinos, the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States.
“This issue has been around far too long,” Boehner, the country’s most senior Republican, told ABC News in an interview.
“A comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself, others can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”
Congress and the White House have struggled for years to come to terms with the contentious issue. Romney and Boehner have accused Obama of promising to address immigration at the beginning of his first term, then failing to offer a solution even with Democrats in control of both chambers of Congress.
Republicans regained control of the House in 2010, while Democrats rule the Senate. Such a split will continue in the 113th Congress which starts on January 3.
Obama has argued that Romney, during the Republican primaries, rejected the “Dream Act,” which would legalize undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children, and supported tough anti-immigrant legislation in Arizona along the Mexican border.
Rising Republican star Senator Marco Rubio opposed the Dream Act, and has declined to say whether he believes Congress should allow those immigrants to become citizens without going home first.
The government says some 11.5 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States.
Rubio has acknowledged discussing an alternative to the Dream Act, but it has not been written into legislation, as it would have likely faced opposition from within his own party.
The Cuban-American lawmaker made clear on the day after the election that his party needed to reach out to Hispanics.