White House press secretary Jay Carney on Friday said House Republicans had made progress on immigration reform and characterized their position on the issue last year as “self-deportation.”

“What the president said and others have noted is that we have seen significant and important progress, first in the Senate, with a bipartisan bill that embodies the principles the president laid out, and now in the House,” said Carney.

“It's fair to say that the operating position a year or so ago was self-deportation,” he said of House Republicans. “Now, there is movement, and that's a good thing.”

Some conservatives have argued for policies to encourage illegal immigrants to leave the country, a process described as “self-deportation.”

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney used the term to describe his own stance on immigration during a GOP debate, saying he wanted to decrease the number of illegal immigrants.

Carney sidestepped questions about whether President Obama would be open to a proposal to grant illegal immigrants already in the country legal status but not citizenship. Obama has long called for a pathway to citizenship but conservative Republicans deride such measures as “amnesty.”

In an interview Friday, Obama said he would not “prejudge” any legislation that emerged from the GOP-controlled House.

“It means that he won't prejudge what he hopes will be a bill that reaches his desk when at this point that bill, at least in the House, does not yet even exist,” Carney said, noting that the White House and Congress were “still early in this process.”

“The president's position is well-known. He said it on multiple occasions. It's in black and white on the website in his statement of principles,” he added.

“His view is the view of so many different people and constituencies across the country on the matter of, you know, citizenship and creating a pathway to it, on the general principle that we shouldn't have a two-tiered society,” said Carney.

House Republicans released their principles for immigration reform on Thursday, raising expectations that legislation could emerge this year.