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House Dems pressure Sen. Reid to act on immigration reform

Democrats held the press conference to pressure Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWATCH: There is no Trump-Russia collusion and the media should stop pushing this The demise of debate in Congress ‘North by Northwest,’ the Carter Page remake MORE (D-Nev.) into action, but they were careful not to criticize the leader.

“The Senate has a responsibility to lead; the Democrats have a majority,” Rep. Luis GutierrezLuis Vicente GutierrezWhy Puerto Rico cannot govern itself Dems left Dreamers out to dry, say activists Rep. Gutiérrez: 'Complete betrayal' if Pelosi backs budget caps deal without DACA MORE (D-Ill.) said. "It's time for them to make their proposal clear."

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Several lawmakers did take aim at Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Pence tours Rio Grande between US and Mexico GOP looks for Plan B after failure of immigration measures MORE (R-S.C.), who had been negotiating an immigration proposal with Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats now attack internet rules they once embraced Schumer: Trump budget would ‘cripple’ gun background checks Schumer: Senate Republicans' silence 'deafening' on guns, Russia MORE (D-N.Y.) but said that the effort would be considered dead on arrival if the borders are not secured.

"This comprehensive immigration reform must move forward,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeNFL player who kneeled for national anthem tackles Capitol Hill 'externship' Former Comey aide grilled by House panel for over seven hours Judiciary advances 17 judicial nominees MORE (D-Texas), the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus’s immigration task force. “We will not be intimidated by a senator from a Southern state or elsewhere."

Graham, who is also a top negotiator on the Senate’s climate change bill, has threatened to withdraw his support for that legislation if immigration moves first.

Speaking about Graham, Jackson Lee said, “ I will say to him, 'So what? We are not intimidated by you.' ”

Lee compared efforts to block the bill to the so-called “Dixiecrats,” segregationist Southern Democrats who were opposed to getting rid of Jim Crow laws.

Many Democrats want the immigration bill next on the agenda after financial regulatory reform because of a controversial new law passed in Arizona that would require police to check the identification of people they suspect are illegal immigrants.

Lawmakers at the press conference referenced the Arizona bill, which several called “unconstitutional,” as the primary reason to pass a bill as soon as possible.

“I’d like to thank Arizona’s governor [Jan Brewer (R)] for rocketing this issue to the forefront,” said Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.). “We’re pushing immigration reform to the top of the agenda.”

Despite the pressure to act, Democratic leaders in the House have hesitated to move first. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said two weeks ago that the House would look at immigration reform only if the Senate acted first. Reid has said both immigration and climate change are priorities.

The over half-dozen lawmakers at the press conference hailed mostly from the House, though Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezJustice Dept intends to re-try Menendez in corruption case DACA is neither bipartisan nor in America's interest Senate DACA deal picks up GOP supporters MORE (D-N.J.), a longtime supporter of immigration reform, was also present.