Rep. Paul Ryan said Thursday that Republicans are taking care not to “push” illegal immigrants to become American citizens as part of any comprehensive immigration reform package.

“We don’t want to push people into citizenship,” Ryan said in an interview with KFYR 550 in Bismarck, N.D.

Ryan said immigrants are more interested in finding jobs than in becoming citizens.

“Most people just want to have a legal status so they can work to provide for their families,” he said.

Ryan has stepped up as an important advocate for immigration reform among House Republicans as he has sought to bridge the gap between the moderate and conservative members of his conference.

Update: A spokesperson for Ryan later elaborated, saying Ryan’s statement did not actually reflect a major concern of Ryan’s. “Ryan simply said we don’t need a special pathway to citizenship to fix our immigration system,” said the spokesperson, Kevin Seifert.