Dems target dozens of Republicans in 'last effort' of the year on immigration reform

House Democrats on Tuesday increased their pressure on GOP supporters of immigration reform to fight harder for a bill this year.

The Democrats are urging those Republicans who've made a verbal commitment to comprehensive reform "to put their pen where their mouth is," in the words of Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), and sign a discharge petition to force a floor vote over the objections of GOP leaders.

"We're calling out the members of the House … who have said they support immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship," Polis said on a press call. "We're saying, 'Do something about your support.' "

With November's elections inching ever-closer, the Democrats see the next few months as their last chance to overhaul the nation's immigration system this Congress. The Senate passed a comprehensive reform bill last summer, and a failure of the House to follow suit before January would be a huge set-back to reform advocates, who would be forced to start from scratch in both chambers in 2015.

The Democrats acknowledge they almost certainly won't attract enough Republicans to their discharge petition to force a vote. (The 191 members who have endorsed the petition – all Democrats – are well shy of the 218 needed to bring the bill to the floor). But the design is to generate local headlines and build enough public pressure that GOP leaders are left with no choice but to act.

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) compared the current immigration push to that surrounding last year's reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act – another measure opposed by Republican leaders, who reluctantly brought it to the floor after months of attacks from Democrats and women's rights groups.

"It seemed we were at loggerheads and we were going nowhere with that … but then the pressure from around the nation became too enormous," Chu said. "The pressure from around the nation [on immigration reform] has to be just as enormous."

Chu said that simple demographics make immigration reform a bipartisan issue, and there are "a significant number of Republicans that know that they have to pay attention to their district."

"We have this variety of viewpoints within the Republican Party," she said. "And [Majority Whip] Kevin McCarthy has to consider all of them, he has to consider the survival of the Republican Party."

The Democrats are targeting 30 Republicans who have voiced some degree of support for immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for the nearly 12 million immigrants estimated to be living in the country illegally.

The Republican targets are Reps. Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungPension committee must deliver on retirement promise Our leaders must end the hate before they burn America down Alaska rep denies suggesting armed Jews could have prevented Holocaust MORE (Alaska), Chris StewartChristopher (Chris) Douglas StewartGOP rep: We’re going to show the CIA ‘got it wrong’ on Russia trying to help Trump Utah GOP wrestles with party purity Republicans waiting out Trump on gun control MORE (Utah), Sean DuffySean Patrick DuffyGOP lawmaker: 'Of course' Dems will impeach Trump if they take control of House Longtime manager of Bon Iver to run for Congress in Wisconsin: report GOP rep: We want DACA bill, but Dems want ‘an open border’ MORE (Wis.), Spencer BachusSpencer Thomas BachusBipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism Manufacturers press Senate to approve Ex-Im board members MORE (Ala.), Jeff Denham (Calif.), David Valadao (Calif.), Greg Walden (Ore.), Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanSpending deal talks down to toughest issues, lawmakers say Schiff: I thought more Republicans would speak out against Trump Dem leaders pull back from hard-line immigration demand MORE (Wis.), Michael Grimm (N.Y.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Mark AmodeiMark Eugene AmodeiDepending on China and Russia for key minerals could lead to a national security crisis Interior agency delayed tribal casino approval after competitor’s lobbying: report DACA advocates see efforts gaining steam in the House MORE (Nev.), Mike Coffman (Colo.), James Lankford (Okla.), Mike Kelly (Pa.), Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), Devin Nunes (Calif.), Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzAmericans want to protect public lands, Congress should listen Chaffetz: Florida school shooting survivors 'need a belief in God and Jesus Christ' Chaffetz: 'Mind-boggling' that Trump would call out his own AG MORE (Utah), Joe Heck (Nev.), Peter King (N.Y.), Raul Labrador (Idaho), Sam JohnsonSamuel (Sam) Robert JohnsonWatchdog: Social Security acting head hasn't been authorized to serve for months Five things to watch for in Texas primaries Millionaires should pay their fair share of Social Security payroll taxes MORE (Texas), John Carter (Texas), Daniel Webster (Fla.), Aaron Schock (Ill.), Steve Pearce (N.M.), Tim GriffinJohn (Tim) Timothy GriffinFlynn discloses lobbying that may have helped Turkey Tea Party class reassesses record Huckabee's daughter to run '16 campaign MORE (Ark.), Justin AmashJustin AmashTwo-year defense spending smooths the way to a ready military House Oversight a gavel no one wants Trump, GOP at new crossroads on deficit MORE (Mich.), Vance McAllister (La.) and Renee Ellmers (N.C.).

Although the Senate bill passed with broad bipartisan support, Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew Boehner4 reasons Mike Pompeo will succeed at Foggy Bottom The misunderstood reason Congress can’t get its job done GOP sees McCarthy moving up — if GOP loses the House MORE (R-Ohio) has refused to bring it to the floor, saying he prefers a piecemeal approach to one sweeping bill.

Even that strategy remains uncertain, however, as a number of conservative Republicans are opposed to passing any related proposal through the House, for fear it would inherit provisions they oppose – notably the citizenship language – in a conference with the Senate bill. With that in mind, it's unclear if even piecemeal bills popular with Republicans will get a floor vote ahead of the elections.

In the face of that uncertainty, a number of immigrant rights advocates on and off Capitol Hill have pressured President Obama to take the issue into his own hands, particularly when it comes to deportations. In 2012, Obama had adopted a program allowing qualified illegal immigrants brought to the country as children to remain and work legally, and advocates have pushed him to expand that initiative to more immigrants ever since.

Rep. Joe GarciaJose (Joe) Antonio GarciaCurbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure Hispanic Caucus to invite Republicans to join Vulnerable House incumbents build up war chests MORE (D-Fla.), a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said he's spoken this month on that topic with both Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. If the House doesn't move legislation soon, Garcia predicted, the administration will step in.

"This is our last effort [this year] to do this as a legislative fix," Garcia said. "I, like a lot of my colleagues, obviously want [Obama] to act if nothing is done [in Congress]. But let there be no excuse from the Republicans that they are creating the need for the president to act if they do not act."