Rebecca Tallent, director of immigration policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, was set to start as a new Boehner assistant Wednesday, The Hill newspaper reported.
Former Gov. Haley Barbour, R-Miss., is co-chairman of the center's immigration task force. Barbour said Boehner's decision to hire Tallent was "affirmation of his strong desire to move legislation in 2014," the newspaper reported.
The Hill said Boehner, R-Ohio, often has expressed his commitment to immigration reform, but faced mounting criticism from reform advocates, including some Republicans, because of the House's inaction.
The Senate passed a comprehensive bill in June, but the House has not voted on any legislation this year, the newspaper said.
Though Boehner has not said when the House would act, his spokesman, Michael Steel, said, "The speaker remains hopeful that we can enact step-by-step, common-sense immigration reforms, the kind of reforms the American people understand and support, Becky Tallent, a well-known expert in this field of public policy, is a great addition to our team and that effort."
The Hill said Tallent previously worked as chief of staff to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and was involved in efforts to pass immigration reform in 2006 and 2007. Kate Lukeman, who advised on immigration policy in Boehner's office, left to take another job a few weeks ago, Steel said.
Meanwhile, some activists began fasting Tuesday to show support for immigration reform. Rep. Joseph Kennedy, D-Mass., began fasting, but his office said he was set to pass off the protest to another activist Wednesday.