More than 100 top Republican donors and fundraisers are pressing GOP lawmakers to act on immigration reform, according to a report from The New York Times.
The donors sent a letter to Republican lawmakers on Tuesday urging them to “take action to fix our broken immigration system.”
The letter calls for measures to “secure our borders,” a system for U.S. companies to “hire the workers they need while making it impossible to hire workers here illegally,” and a “path to legal status for undocumented immigrants.”
The effort was organized by former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, who served in the George W. Bush’s administration and is the founder of the group Republicans for Immigration Reform.
Gutierrez told the Times that the group would lobby GOP lawmakers over the August recess.
“Members go home and they go to town hall meetings and they check up on their offices in terms of phone calls and letters, and that’s where they get bombarded,” Gutierrez said. “So Republicans who are for immigration reform — and I believe there are many — we need to make our voice known in August.”
The move, though, comes as immigration reform proponents fear momentum has stalled following the Senate’s passage last month of a bipartisan overhaul.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said the House will not take up the Senate bill despite pressure from Democrats and intends to move immigration reform piecemeal.
House Republicans, led by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), are crafting a bill to provide a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children as a first step.
But reform efforts are strongly opposed by many House conservatives, who feel the focus should be on border security measures and not on steps they deride as “amnesty” for illegal immigrants.
GOP leaders face a tough challenge winning support for such measures, and Boehner has said he will not move legislation that lacks the backing of a majority of his conference.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who opposes a pathway to citizenship, attracted criticism last week when he painted many immigrant children as criminal drug runners.
Boehner and Cantor quickly condemned the remarks, with the Speaker calling them “wrong” and saying they would make it more difficult to pass immigration legislation.