Speaking at a Wednesday event held by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Rep. Paul Ryan, one of the GOP's most high-profile supporters of comprehensive immigration reform, expressed the utmost confidence that Congress would reform the nation's broken immigration system...eventually.
"We've got a broken system that needs fixing, and we have ideas on how to fix it," Ryan told the assembled crowd of reform supporters. "We think there's a way to do it. To me, it's not a question of if we fix our broken immigration laws, it's really a question of when."
Despite his professions of confidence, however, Ryan didn't offer a specific or even general timeline, opting instead to highlight the list of immigration "principles" Republicans unveiled in January (and then quickly backed away from after anti-reform conservatives across the country protested).
[GOP Rep. Mario] Diaz-Balart, one of the strongest supporters of immigration reform within the House GOP, said it's the "800-pound gorilla" in the room: Members recognize there's a problem, but they still have some difficulty in agreeing on a solution. Still, he said he is confident reform will be done.
"I am absolutely convinced that finally we will be able to solve that issue that people thought was unsolvable, but that we know that we can do because we have the legislative language," he said. "With your help, we can get this done."
Priebus, who is faced with the daunting task of winning over Latino voters who largely supported Democrats in the last election, said reform will be important to growing the GOP and improving the economy.
"As a nation of immigrants, we need to find common ground on immigration reform," Priebus said. "This is a problem that doesn't have easy solutions, but Republicans agree that the system is broken, that's number one. Number two, we believe that we have to do something. The only question is how are we going to do it."