For almost four years, a secret bipartisan group of six House members has reportedly been working to fashion a comprehensive immigration reform bill that they plan to unveil sometime next week.
Sources have confirmed to The Hill that the six core members of the group include: Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Rep. Joe Carter (R-TX), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX).
The private House group is said to be much further along in crafting immigration legislation than the Senate’s eight Republicans and Democrats who are working on the issue as well.
“I genuinely think leadership wants to get a bill passed,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL). But the congressman says he recognizes that achieving action on a highly contentious issue like immigration will be difficult. “This is going to be a heavy lift, a very heavy lift,” said Diaz-Balart.
The newly installed chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), agreed that GOP House leadership is committed to making a concerted effort to enact immigration reform. “We’re going to be aggressively pursuing the issue to see if we can do something that is–I won’t call it all-encompassing–but that encompasses a number of the different issues that are addressed in immigration,” said Goodlatte.
On Tuesday, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is slated to make a major policy speech on immigration. And Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) recently told an audience that the secret House group “basically [has] an agreement” in place, remarks that an aide later walked back and softened.
According to a March 2012 report by Homeland Security, as of January 2011, there were an estimated 11.5 million illegal immigrants living in the United States.