Senate Democrats, who have said they are prepared to move on an immigration bill soon after the next Congress begins in January, expressed a sense of optimism.
"This is a breakthrough to have the Speaker endorse the urgency of comprehensive immigration reform. Democrats in the Senate look forward to working with him to come up with a bipartisan solution," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the chairman of a key immigration subcommittee.
National Immigration Forum Executive Director Ali Noorani was also pleased with Boehner's comments.
"It means that the GOP takes the Latino vote seriously now," he told ABC/Univision. "The dynamics are changing. There is a storm brewing."
It's remarkable that leaders in the Republican House, the Democratic Senate, and President Obama have all voiced support for immigration reform. But it's still far from a given that a comprehensive bill becomes reality.
Congressional leaders have not spoken about an exact time frame or the policy details of an immigration bill. Past attempt have been held up by controversy and a lack of consensus about what to do with the 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
Democrats in Congress almost uniformly support immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship, but the Republicans still have many members who are opposed to it. Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and David Vitter (R-La.), who helped derail the 2007 bill, remain in office. And Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), the House's foremost immigration hardliner, won reelection on Tuesday. That's not to mention the resistance Republicans could feel from their conservative base.
Noorani, whose group has worked with conservatives such as anti-tax activist Grover Norquist to prod the GOP on immigration reform, said that it will be incumbent upon party leaders to make the skeptics fall in line.
"The only way Steve King is going to be a problem is if the GOP doesn't fix the immigration problem," Noorani said.
"Obama voters chose dependency over Liberty. Now establishment R's want citizenship for illegals. You can't beat Santa Claus with amnesty," tweeted King on Thursday night.