Gutierrez: House group will unveil immigration deal by June, or not this year

House lawmakers negotiating a sweeping immigration reform package will unveil their proposal this month — or never at all, a member of the group vowed Wednesday.

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) said only a few disagreements remain to be ironed out within the bipartisan Group of Eight, which has been meeting for four years to craft legislation that can pass through Congress. If those differences aren't resolved by June, Gutiérrez said, then the window will have closed on reaching a deal this year.

ADVERTISEMENT
"It can't be weeks, because there's no time for weeks. There's no time for months," Gutiérrez said. "If you don't see it rolled out by the end of the month, you're not going to see it rolled out. There's just not that much more to be decided."

Gutiérrez, Capitol Hill's most persistent immigration reform advocate, declined to identify what — or how many — sticking points remain, but said the group will meet again Wednesday afternoon to continue the process.

"We're always making progress — every day," he said.

The other seven House negotiators are Reps. John Carter (R-Texas), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), Sam JohnsonSam JohnsonJuan Williams: The real fight is over entitlements Week ahead: Senate ramps up work on ObamaCare repeal; Nominees on hot seat Ill. rep named new chairman for House tax-policy subcommittee MORE (R-Texas), Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraPoll: Former Sanders staffer gains steam in race to replace Xavier Becerra Mortgages rise out of reach for many Latinos House Hispanic Dems vie for more committee assignments MORE (D-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and John YarmuthJohn YarmuthWHIP LIST: More than 60 Dems boycotting Trump's inauguration House Dems call on OMB to analyze Senate budget plan Congress to clear path for Mattis MORE (D-Ky.).

Gutiérrez made the comments one day before the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin to mark up a separate comprehensive immigration reform bill unveiled last month by a similar Gang of Eight in the upper chamber. It's unclear how long the markup will take, but few are predicting a quick process. Indeed, members of the Judiciary panel filed more than 300 amendments to the bill this week.

Meanwhile, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteBob GoodlatteGOP eyes new push to break up California court Schumer: GOP 'filling the swamp' by targeting ethics chief Justice, FBI to be investigated over Clinton probes MORE (R-Va.) has vowed to push ahead with hearings on separate pieces of immigration reform even without legislation from House negotiators. Goodlatte has emphasized, however, that his "step-by-step approach" is not designed to replace a comprehensive reform package, should one surface later in the year.

Gutiérrez, for one, knows there's a big fight to come. But the Chicago native is predicting that, after years of coming up short, reform advocates will finally see their efforts bear fruit.

"This is going to be a long, laborious process. This is the beginning," Gutierrez said Wednesday. "It will take awhile before everybody has spoken and everybody's opinion is heard. But in the end, I really believe we're at the crossroads of a great victory."