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House Members to Present Their Plan for CIR

February 4, 2013

Sunday’s New York Times outlined the secret meetings of a bipartisan group of House members, who have been working on Comprehensive Immigration Reform for “almost four years.”

Aides and members would not confirm on the record the group’s exact composition, but they said it had an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. In addition to Mr. Gutierrez, the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s immigration task force, those involved in the discussions, aides said, include Representatives Xavier Becerra and Zoe Lofgren, both California Democrats; John Yarmuth, Democrat of Kentucky; Representatives John Carter and Sam Johnson, both Texas Republicans; Mario Diaz-Balart, Republican of Florida; and Raúl R. Labrador, Republican of Idaho.

Zoe Lofgren, who represents Silicon Valley, has been a leader for a number of years on the issue of immigration. Rep. Raúl Labrador, a newer House member, is a former immigration attorney.

Since the election, the group has met at least once a week, for at least an hour, when the House is in session. Those close to the group said its members largely agreed with the broad principles that were released by their Senate counterparts last Monday.

“The goal is to fix what’s broken, and it’s pretty clear that a lot is broken,” Mr. Diaz-Balart said. “Do we recognize that we have a problem with the borders? Yes. Do we recognize that we have a problem with our visa system, where people don’t leave the country? Yes. Do we recognize that we have kids who were brought here by their parents and that’s an issue we have to deal with? Yes. Do we recognize the need for agricultural workers? Yes.”

He added, “The devil is in the details, but I am hopeful that members of Congress who truly want to reach a solution will be able to.”

The House and Senate working groups have been in touch. Mr. Gutierrez said he had a productive meeting in December with Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, and has talked with Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey.

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing, “America’s Immigration System: Opportunities for Legal Immigration and Enforcement of Laws against Illegal Immigration,” on Tuesday morning.

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