WASHINGTON - U.S. House Speaker John Boehner signaled on Thursday any action on immigration is unlikely this year because House Republicans don't trust President Barack Obama on the issue.
"There's widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws and it's going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes," Boehner told reporters.
The issue of how to deal with some 11 million undocumented workers is the central component of immigration reform that splits the House GOP, which controls the chamber.
Even many of Boehner's allies who support addressing immigration urged him to put off a vote on the issue until after the midterm elections.
Boehner believes certain changes in immigration policy would make good economic policy. He also is trying to help Republicans appeal more broadly to Latino voters, a shortcoming that complicates GOP White House aspirations.
But many Republican members of Congress are worried more about their current races and angering the conservative base, whose turnout is crucial for midterms.
After a lot of attention to immigration reform at the start of 2013, the issue faded over the summer after the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a bill that stalled in the House.
Republicans there said they preferred to address the matter incrementally rather than in one comprehensive measure.
Obama raised the issue in his State of the Union address last week, putting the spotlight on the House to act.
"If we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement -- and fix our broken immigration system," Obama said.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Thursday the administration had been heartened to see Republicans, including Boehner, "identify immigration reform" as a priority.
But, he said, building trust on these "issues take time and this certainly has taken some time."