Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, said he was working to find a way to deal with illegal immigrants already in the country that would be acceptable to a majority of Republicans, such as allowing them a legal worker status without a special pathway to citizenship. "In the House you're going to have a hard time finding Republicans who can support a pathway to citizenship," Labrador said.
Ahead of the release of their bill, the group members are still trying to keep their efforts quiet and several declined to discuss their efforts or membership in detail. Aides said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has been supportive, but regardless of what the group proposes, Boehner is not expected take any steps on immigration until legislation passes the Senate.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., a member of the Senate negotiating group on immigration who was a House member until his election in November, said he's been in touch with former colleagues in the House on the issue.
"There are some who aren't wild about doing any of this, but even those that aren't wild about it are ready to see this in the rearview mirror," he said.
The House Judiciary Committee is to begin hearings next week, and Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said much work lies ahead before it will become clear what kind of immigration law changes the House might be able to support.
"I feel confident the House will pass immigration reform legislation, but whether it's individual pieces or something that fits together in a more comprehensive whole" remains to be seen, Goodlatte said Wednesday.
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