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US Congress Promises Immigration Reform this Upcoming Year

House Republicans intensified their outreach to Latino groups last week, offering renewed pledges that the House will deal with immigration reform this year. The effort has revived hope among advocates that a bipartisan deal can be reached to address the fate of the nation’s 11 million undocumented workers and students. The chances of a comprehensive deal passing Congress remain doubtful, advocates cautioned, and they worry that the legislative process will spill into 2014, presenting new complications in a year when lawmakers face reelection battles.

But they were encouraged by signals from key GOP leaders that the House is willing to move forward on legislation that could produce a breakthrough in the stalled negotiations. 

Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said Thursday that his panel is working on four new pieces of legislation dealing with border-control laws. He did not disclose details but emphasized the need to resolve the status of people living in the country illegally.

The Democratic-controlled Senate approveda bipartisan plan in June that features a 13-year path to citizenship for immigrants who are in the country illegally, the key sticking point for many House Republicans.

From the beginning, the chances of a comprehensive deal in the House have been remote. An attempt to replicate the Senate’s broad approach foundered last week when two more House Republicans dropped out of bipartisan talks. Instead, GOP leaders have said they will pursue a series of smaller bills.

Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told immigration advocates in a private conversation this month that the issue remains on the agenda despite a crowded calendar that also includes negotiations on the budget and the debt ceiling, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

The Senate bill would guarantee that most undocumented immigrants could earn green cards in 10 years, and citizenship three years after that, if they paid fines, learned English, remained employed and did not commit crimes.

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