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Joe Garcia, House Democrats to move forward with immigration plan


Miami's Joe Garcia looks like he might be taking a leading role in a House Democrats' plan that they'll discuss tomorrow in a DC press conference.

It's unclear what Garcia and unspecified "House Democratic leaders" and members plan to discuss at noon, but the caucus has already started pushing plans now that efforts of a bipartisan group have stalled in the House. Two leaders of that effort were Garcia's Miami colleague, Miami Republican Mario Diaz-Balart, and Illinois Democrat Luis Gutierrez.

If Garcia takes a leadership role, he'll be the third active Miami congressman to tackle the national issue behind Diaz-Balart and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who helped pass a bipartisan Senate plan that the House refused to consider.

House Democrats began making more noise about the issue two weeks ago when Arizona Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva and Texas Rep. Filemon Vela unveiled their own proposal "Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity" (CIR ASAP) Act of 2013.

“The House discussion on immigration reform hasn’t been an honest debate about good policy, it’s been a one-sided refusal to take the issue seriously,” Grijalva said in a press release.

House Republicans insist comprehensive immigration reform is still alive in the chamber, but the chances that currently illegal immigrants will be offered a pathway to citizenship is unlikely.

Diaz-Balart has been feverishly working behind the scenes with Republicans to gain consensus and bring along members like Panama City Republican Steve Southerland.

And The House Judiciary Committee's chairman, Bob Goodlatte, has signaled he's open to a discussion about giving legal status to the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

But so far, support for a pathway to citizenship looks like a rocky road in the House. It was a major component of the bipartisan Senate bill that helped Rubio lose tea party support.

In the House, Goodlatte and a fellow Virginian, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, are working on a bill that would give a pathway to citizenship to those immigrants who were brought illegally to this country as children.

Other House Republicans are working on a series of bills concerning border security -- one of which would allow states to enforce more federal border laws -- and a visa program to allow more workers into the U.S., if needed.

The visa measure is being spearheaded by Republican Reps. Ted Poe, of Texas, and Raul Labrador, of Idaho, who was the first to leave the bipartisan House group over frustrations with California Democrat Xavier Becerra, suspected of being a proxy for his fellow Californian and House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi.