"The principles aren't written yet, but in my personal belief I think it'll go with legal status that will allow you to work and pay taxes," he told the Bakersfield-based KBAX/KBFX in an interview published Tuesday night.
His remarks come as House GOP leaders prepare a set of "principles" for how to overhaul the country's immigration system. The issue of legalizing unauthorized immigrants -- and how far to go in offering permanent status -- is extremely controversial among conservatives and has stalled the reform push.
"That's a decision that every Republican will have to make in laying out the principles, but that's my personal position," McCarthy said in the interview.
McCarthy has been somewhat more flexible on the issue of legal status than many other Republicans. His district is about 35 percent Hispanic, according to the New York Times -- one of the highest of any House GOP incumbent.