|Moderate Democrats working to gather support from Republicans for comprehensive immigration reform sent an ultimatum early before recess to Speaker John Boehner to introduce a bill by Sept. 30 or Democrats would introduce their own, as they ultimately ended up doing.
The letter was sent by 39 members of the New Democrat Coalition, a group with 53-total members, including Rep. Joaquin Castro.
"[W]e are frustrated that there was not a bipartisan immigration reform bill introduced prior to the August recess," reads the letter.
"Therefore, we write to inform you that if a bipartisan immigration reform package is not introduced in the House of Representatives -- one that includes a pathway to citizenship, helps grow American jobs, and fixes our immigration system once and for all -- by September 30th, we as New Democrats will consider introducing a comprehensive immigration reform bill," the letter continues.
The group were key in crafting the legislative effort and will play a major role with the House Democrats' immigration strategy.
Polls have shown strong support from GOP voters for Senate's Gang of Eight bill, which House bill mirrors.
The bill is nearly identical to the one passed by the Senate early this summer in June by a 68-to-32 vote, with support from all Democrats and 14 GOP members. The House bill, however, replaces the border security language from the Senate version that convinced many of those Republican and Democratic senators to get on board, and instead includes a measure that passed out of the House Homeland Security Committee in May. That measure, championed by Reps. Mike McCaul (R-Austin, Texas) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), includes more specific metrics to be met to ensure border security.
The House measure mirrors the Senate's bill in overhauling our current immigration system, increasing border and interior security enforcement requirements and providing a path to citizenship for some of the estimated 11.7 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States, along with the McCaul-Thompson language.
You can view part of the legislation here.
Currently no House Republicans have yet to sign on to the bill, but House Democrats argue they should get behind it given the bill's bipartisan elements from both the Senate bill and the McCaul-Thompson border security measure.
Pelosi stated that the Democrats' bill does not mean they are not willing to work with Republicans to get something passed, but insisted Democrats will not bend on a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
A bipartisan effort on comprehensive immigration reform fell apart last month when two of the three remaining GOP members -- Reps. John Carter (R-Round Rock, Texas) and Sam Johnson (R-Plano, Texas) -- dropped out. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) was the only member of the group who attended the press conference on Wednesday.
Yet Democrats insist the bill could pass if Speaker John Boehner would allow for a vote, because a majority of Democrats and some Republicans would support it.
Becerra, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said House Republicans should support immigration reform because the American public wants them to.
"We know the votes are there, so there's no reason why we shouldn't get this done," he said. "If everyone keeps talking here in Congress about paying attention to the American people, we would do this."
And Becerra is absolutely right. Polls across the country consistently show immense bipartisan support for immigration reform, support across states ranging in the 60% to high 70% range. In Texas, 67 percent said they could support the reform bill as described, with 72 percent backing a pathway to citizenship.
Rep. Joaquin Castro highlighted the unusual coalition of business, labor and Evangelical Christians actively advocating for immigration reform.
"I still believe the Congress is up to taking on big challenges," said Castro. "If this doesn't happen, it really is a failure of the House Republicans to listen to the American people and take action."
Follow can follow me on Twitter at @AraizaTX