May 14, 2013— -- There's a new immigration "gang" in Washington, folks.
Eight Republicans in the House are banding together against immigration reform, and among their ranks is a veritable all-star team of anti-"amnesty" activists.
The group is captained by Rep. Steve King (Iowa), the guy who once compared immigrants to dogs, and a long-time opponent of illegal immigration.
Here's why you're hearing about these guys:
Right now, a bill that would make sweeping changes to the nation's immigration system is making its way through the Senate. Among other things, the legislation would create a pathway to citizenship for the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants.
But the legislation could face a tougher road in the Republican-controlled House.
That's where King and Gohmert come in. They'll likely lead the charge against any bill that seeks to legalize people who are here without papers.
At a presser in front of the Capitol on Tuesday, you could see the common themes that must have drawn them together.
Likes: secure borders, "rule of law," red ties.
Dislikes: open borders, President Obama and, to the end of days, amnesty.
With all eight members being white, male and over 50, it's not the most diverse group. But that won't stop them from speaking up for Hispanics in their districts, who apparently oppose immigration reform:
"The Hispanics that I know in my community, they want people who understand the importance of the rule of law," said Mo Brooks (Ala.). "That's what this is all about more than anything else...we cannot afford anarchy if we are going to have a democracy."
The anti-amnesty gang weathered the press conference without two of its most prominent members, Texas Rep. Lamar Smith (pinched nerve, back) and Pennsylvania Rep. Lou Barletta (transportation issues).
Smith is a former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and a firm advocate of increased border security and checks on work eligibility. Barletta recently compared legalizing undocumented workers to taking on water in a "sinking ship."
Other members of the group are Rep. Steve Stockman (Texas), Rep. John Fleming (La.) and Rep. Paul Gosar (Ariz.).
Whether this coalition will have leverage in the House debate remains to be seen.
House leadership will play a pivotal role in what happens to the immigration reform effort. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has kept a low profile so far, but where he stands on a bill could have more to do with passage than anything else.
Even if the House decides to tackle immigration reform in pieces, as some Republicans have suggested, there might still be a chance to reconcile a Senate bill with the mix of House bill in a procedure known as "conference committee."
The result could be a law that looks more like the immigration bill in the Senate than anything the anti-amnesty group would support.
Steve King is afraid of that, but he still has hopes that he'll find more allies in coming weeks.
"If they're not on our side, then I'd suggest that they are convertible," King said on Tuesday. "And what's going on today is to help them undergo a conversion."
He's already using a familiar rallying cry to get the message out to fellow conservatives: if you didn't like Obamacare, you really won't like this.
"You all know how badly I despise Obamacare. I have spent years of my life fighting against Obamacare," he said. "It's terrible, it diminishes the destiny of America. But if I have to choose...I would take Obamacare and try to live with that than ever accept this amnesty plan. Because the amnesty plan is far, far worse than Obamacare because we can't put it back in a bottle."