5 Things You Need to Know About Immigration in the House

The Senate bill got a cold reception from Republican leadership in the House.

July 1, 2013— -- Last week, the Senate passed a bill that would overhaul the nation's immigration laws. Getting legislation through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will be a lot harder, however. Here's what you need to know about where immigration reform stands in the House:

1. Republicans aren't feeling the Senate bill

After an immigration plan cleared the Senate last week, the House's top Republican said the bill was dead-on-arrival at its next stop:

"Apparently some haven't gotten the message: the House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes," said Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). "We're going to do our own bill...and move the legislation that reflects the will of our majority and the will of the American people."

See Also: House Unmoved by Senate Immigration Vote

Basically Boehner is saying that any bill considered on the floor of the House will need the support of the majority of Republicans -- and the Senate immigration bill won't have that. That doesn't mean some type of immigration plan can't pass the House. Here's why:

2. Smaller immigration bills are moving

The immigration reform bill in the Senate was nearly 1,200 pages long. But some conservatives in the House are taking a piecemeal approach to reform, passing a series of individual bills instead of one large package.

Any immigration bill passed in the House could then be combined with the Senate immigration bill, through what's known as a "conference committee." Boehner could hypothetically bring a combined bill to the floor of the House without the support of most Republicans. That would give the legislation a chance. A move like that would go against what he said about having majority support for the bill. But both supporters and opponents of reform have said that's a possibility, and the Speaker has reversed his position in the past. A group of Democrats and Republicans are also working on a comprehensive bill in the House. But that effort hasn't yielded anything yet, and legislators don't have a timetable for when they might produce something. In any case, it's unlikely that the majority of House Republicans would support an immigration reform bill similar to the one in the Senate, even if it was the combined bill mentioned above. Here's why:

3. Most Republicans aren't affected by demographic pressure

Since President Barack Obama won reelection with runaway support from Latino and Asian voters, Republican strategists have said immigration reform could be a way for the party to win over people who aren't older and white.

But while the GOP may be worried about appealing to Latino voters on a national level, that isn't as much of a concern for individual representatives. That's because the vast majority of House Republicans are in districts where Latinos aren't a large voting bloc, according to The Wall Street Journal. Only 38 of the 234 Republicans in the House are from districts where Latinos make up 20 percent or more of the population. So while immigration reform may be good for the Republican party as a whole, most House conservatives aren't feeling the same sort of pressure to pass a bill. That could be a problem for immigration reform for one big reason:

4. Citizenship for undocumented immigrants is not negotiable

Democratic leaders have said that a pathway to citizenship for the country's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants isn't negotiable.

So whatever the House produces, the final immigration bill will need to have a road to citizenship included, or else Democrats will kill it. So far, House leadership hasn't taken a position on citizenship, but expect any proposal with citizenship for the undocumented -- what opponents call "amnesty" -- to encounter resistance among the majority of House Republicans.

5. July 10 is the next big reveal

The House Republican Conference will hold a special meeting on that day to discuss immigration reform, Politico reports. GOP leadership will give an overview of the issue and the individual bills that have been developed in the House already.

This will also be a chance for House Republicans to make their opinions heard, and for leadership to gauge the party's appetite for reform. Expect to hear from border hawks like Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who will likely oppose any broad immigration bill with a path to citizenship for the undocumented. But more interesting will be whether more moderate party leaders like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), who is widely respected and has already spoken in favor of reform, will step up public support.