(CNN)House Speaker Paul Ryan was asked point-blank Thursday by a woman whose parents brought her to the US as an undocumented immigrant at age 11, and who has remained in the country for 21 years since: "Do you think that I should be deported?"
Paul Ryan tells undocumented immigrant he doesn't want to deport her
"I can see that you love your daughter and you're a nice person who has a great future ahead of you, and I hope your future's here," Ryan responded during a CNN town hall in Washington moderated by Jake Tapper.
President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to repeal President Barack Obama's executive actions that allowed undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children and their families to remain in the country without fear of deportation.
Ryan said lawmakers are talking with Trump's transition team about those immigrants -- and said Trump's focus is on violent criminals and building a US-Mexico border wall.
"That's the problem he wants to focus on. This is not the focus. And so what we have to do is find a way to ensure that you can get right with the law," he said. "We have to figure out how to fix this, but to do that, people need to have confidence that our laws are being followed, people know who's coming and going and we need to have a secure border."
"What we have to do is figure out how to have a humane solution to this very legitimate, sincere problem, and respect the rule of law," Ryan said.
Tapper asked Ryan if Republicans would seek a law barring the federal government from using information submitted by those allowed to remain in the US through Obama's executive actions to deport those individuals.
Ryan responded that though some fear a deportation force, "it's not happening."
Tapper responded that Trump had actually talked of creating a "deportation force" on the campaign trail.
"I know, I know," Ryan said, laughing. "But I'm here to tell you, in Congress, it's not happening."
He did, however, take a hard line on "sanctuary cities" that don't deport undocumented immigrants.
"Sanctuary cities are a violation of the rule of law, and they are not to be tolerated," he said.
"That means if you want federal assistance, you're not going to get it. You've got to enforce the law," Ryan said, referring to cities that adopt such policies.