WASHINGTON – Hopes for a sweeping
“The bottom line is -- the American people do not trust the president to enforce laws, and we don’t either,” Carter and Johnson wrote in a joint statement, pointing to the
The once-eight-member House immigration group – four
Advocates of changing the nation’s immigration laws had expected the House group would provide a legislative road map, much the way a similar bipartisan group of senators, led by
But in the face of steep resistance from Republicans in the House, the group's work is all but on hold.
“It saddens me that our working group is at an impasse and has been unable to introduce legislation,” said Rep.
The departing Republicans said they preferred their party's piecemeal approach to changing immigration law. The cornerstone of the bipartisan group's effort – a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants in the country without legal status – has not been embraced by the rest of the House GOP.
Instead, House Republicans have crafted bills to beef up border security, bring in new guest workers and require employers to verify the legal status of workers – but not to provide a legal option to those immigrants who crossed into the U.S. illegally or stayed in the country on expired visas.
GOP leaders nationally are trying to improve their standing among Latino voters by considering immigration issues, which is a top priority for many Latinos and minority groups. But the party risks being blamed for the failure of an immigration overhaul in this Congress, and Democrats said the pressure was on House Speaker
"It is clear the bipartisan group's work was not being embraced by Republican leaders," said Rep. Luis V. Guiterrez (D-Ill.), another leader in the group, "so this allows us to put the focus squarely on Speaker Boehner and his lieutenants to decide if they are serious about reform and, if so, to do something more than talk."
Leaders from both parties met Thursday to discuss immigration with
Advocacy groups continue to pressure Congress to act, warning that their members will campaign against lawmakers who block immigration efforts during next year's congressional midterm elections.