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Ryan signals doubt on whether immigration overhaul can be passed

A key House Republican signaled doubt Sunday about whether Congress can pass an immigration bill this year and send it to President Barack Obama for his signature.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin told ABC’s This Week “I really don't know” if the Republican-led House and the Democratic-controlled Senate can agree on legislation this year that Obama could sign.

“That is clearly in doubt,” Ryan said. He said the answer depends on whether the Obama administration is “willing to actually secure the border, actually have interior enforcement and agree to not having an amnesty. If we can do that, where it's security first, no amnesty, then we might be able to get somewhere. But I just don't know if that's going to be the case or not.”

Ryan, his party’s 2102 vice presidential candidate said that one position that all Republicans agree on is “we don't trust the president to enforce the law.”

He said the standards for immigration reform that the House Republican leadership issued last week are “security first, first we have to secure the border, have interior enforcement, which is a worker verification system, a visa tracking program. Those things have to be in law, in practice and independently verified before the rest of the law can occur.”

Ryan said House Republicans “don't want to see us get into conference with the Senate and then compromise to a bad law. We won't let that happen because we've already said we won't go to the conference with the Senate.”

The Senate passed its immigration overhaul bill last June by a vote of 68 to 32, with 13 Republican senators voting for it.

Ryan also said House Republicans are under no pressure of a deadline on the immigration issue. If there were a deadline, he said, that could force “us into a compromise we might not like to take.”

Indicating why Republicans do not trust Obama to enforce the law, Ryan said, “We have an increasingly lawless presidency where he is actually doing the job of Congress, writing new policies and new laws without going through congress. Presidents don't write laws, Congress does.”

A statement of immigration reform principles developed by the House GOP leadership last week called for allowing illegal immigrants to “live legally and without fear in the U.S., but only if they were willing to admit their culpability, pass rigorous background checks, pay significant fines and back taxes, develop proficiency in English and American civics, and be able to support themselves and their families (without access to public benefits).”

And “none of this can happen before specific enforcement triggers have been implemented,” the statement of principles said.