A group of six House members, divided almost equally between members of the Democratic and Republican parties, is close to completing a wide-ranging immigration legislation that is similar to proposals by President Barack Obama and Senate negotiators. It includes offering a path to US citizenship for the around 11 million illegal immigrants who already reside in the United States.
The group is intending to unveil the legislation very soon, possibly around the time of the State of the Union address by President Obama on Feb. 12, aides and lawmakers claim. However, it is likely to encounter strong resistance from a number of the more conservative members of the Republican Party who dominate the House.
On the plus side however the very existence of this legislation is proof that interest in immigration reform is at a stronger level in the House than has been the case for quite some time. Group members claim that while many Republican members of the House may be discomfited by any attempts to alter the legal status of undocumented immigrants, they do see signs of hope that some kind of immigration package may well pass during this session of Congress.
“I’ve felt a huge sea change, believe it or not, from both parties,” says Rep Mario Diaz-Balart. “There are some who will criticize anything no matter what it is as amnesty. There are even some who will label anything as amnesty without even reading a bill or seeing a bill. … But I think the majority of Republicans and the majority of Democrats want to get something done.”