House Immigration Group Promises Its Own Bill "Soon"

House group praises newly-released Senate bill that offers path to citizenship.

April 17, 2013— -- A bipartisan group of House lawmakers comprised of four Democrats and four Republicans said that they would soon release their own immigration reform proposal. They also applauded the Senate Gang of Eight's plan as an important step forward.

"Americans want to see the nation's broken immigration system fixed, and they know it will take bipartisanship to solve this problem in a sensible and rational way," the group said in a joint statement Wednesday.

The remarks are the first official statement by the House group, which has so far operated in secret. The group includes Reps. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), Sam Johnson (R-Texas) and John Carter (R-Texas).

The House group has been mum about when it will release its own proposal, but members said it would come soon.

"We believe we will soon agree on a reasonable, common-sense plan," the statement said. "While we have made substantial progress, we continue to work diligently towards a bill."

How the Republican-controlled House will handle immigration reform is still unknown. Leaders have remained open to considering proposals from the Senate. But members of the conservative wing of the GOP have balked at any proposal that offers legalization to undocumented immigrants. And it's also not clear if the House has the appetite to tackle immigration reform in a comprehensive bill, or in separate pieces of legislation.

Notably, the House statement does not specifically mention the term "pathway to citizenship" as one of its goals. Instead, it offers support for strengthening border security and the economy, along with "a tough but fair process that respects the rule of law so immigrants can contribute to our country."

Some members of the group, however, have indicated there is agreement on allowing undocumented immigrants to eventually earn their way to citizenship.

"I have spoken with Republicans, including [Reps.] Paul Ryan and Raúl Labrador and Mario Diaz-Balart," Gutiérrez said last month at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. "They and I understand that we should not legislate a permanent non-citizen underclass. I think they agree with me and many of the leading Republicans also agree."