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Boehner on Immigration: 'It's Time to Deal with It'

Alex Wong/Getty Images(CAMBRIDGE, Md.) -- House Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday it's finally time to deal with immigration reform, an issue that he says has been unfairly turned into a "political football."

"I think it’s unfair. I think it’s time to deal with it," Boehner said, speaking to reporters as House Republicans gather for a retreat on Maryland's Eastern Shore. "But how we deal with it is going to be critically important."

Immigration is Topic A of the two-day policy session, where Republican leaders are trying to build consensus around a step-by-step approach to overhauling the nation's immigration laws.

While Boehner and other Republican leaders expressed confidence they could build support for this controversial issue, he said it was also essential to build momentum outside Congress.  Behind closed doors Thursday afternoon at the retreat in Cambridge, Md., he said Republicans would debate proposals in search of what he called a "common-sense" solution.

It remains an open question whether a path to citizenship would be part of the plan.  Strong opposition remains among many Republicans to giving illegal immigrants a route to citizenship, rather than legal status to work in the U.S.

"It’s one thing to a pass a law," Boehner said.  "It’s another thing to have the confidence of the American people behind that law as you’re passing it."

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