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.

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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 YoungThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems release first transcripts from impeachment probe witnesses GOP lawmaker head-butts MoveOn camera Hundreds turn out for London's first transgender equality march MORE (Alaska), Chris StewartChristopher (Chris) Douglas StewartGOP lawmaker offering bill protecting LGBTQ rights with religious exemptions House GOP wants Senate Republicans to do more on impeachment How House Republicans have stayed unified on impeachment MORE (Utah), Sean DuffySean DuffyJuan Williams: Trump has nothing left but smears On The Money: Trump seeks to shift spotlight from impeachment to economy | Appropriators agree to Dec. 20 funding deadline | New study says tariffs threaten 1.5M jobs Ex-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR MORE (Wis.), Spencer BachusSpencer Thomas BachusManufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank Biz groups take victory lap on Ex-Im Bank On The Money: White House files notice of China tariff hikes | Dems cite NYT report in push for Trump tax returns | Trump hits Iran with new sanctions | Trump praises GM for selling shuttered Ohio factory | Ex-Im Bank back at full strength MORE (Ala.), Jeff Denham (Calif.), David Valadao (Calif.), Greg Walden (Ore.), Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanJeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay House Ethics Committee informs Duncan Hunter he can no longer vote after guilty plea MORE (Wis.), Michael Grimm (N.Y.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Mark AmodeiMark Eugene AmodeiBillboards calling on House Republicans to 'do their job' follow members home for Thanksgiving Trump's defenders are running out of options Avoiding the snake in the grass: Let's not allow impeachment to divide us MORE (Nev.), Mike Coffman (Colo.), James Lankford (Okla.), Mike Kelly (Pa.), Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), Devin Nunes (Calif.), Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzElijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke MORE (Utah), Joe Heck (Nev.), Peter King (N.Y.), Raul Labrador (Idaho), Sam JohnsonSamuel (Sam) Robert Johnson Retirees should say 'no thanks' to Romney's Social Security plan Lobbying world Social Security is approaching crisis territory 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 AmashGroup of House Democrats reportedly attended the White House ball Group of Democrats floating censure of Trump instead of impeachment: report Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing MORE (Mich.), Vance McAllister (La.) and Renee Ellmers (N.C.).

Although the Senate bill passed with broad bipartisan support, Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFormer Speaker Boehner's official portrait unveiled Key Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock From learning on his feet to policy director 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 GarciaOvernight Defense: Biden honors McCain at Phoenix memorial service | US considers sending captured ISIS fighters to Gitmo and Iraq | Senators press Trump on ending Yemen civil war Biden pays tribute to McCain at emotional memorial service Mueller indictments: Congressional candidate asked Russian operatives for info on opponent 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."