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November 26, 2014

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Immigration in brief: House whip says no time to pass reform in 2013; advocates continue to press

Sixteen days remain in House 2013 session

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Associated Press

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., center, walks to a Republican caucus at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013.

With 16 days left in the 2013 congressional session, some politicians are already writing immigration reform's obituary, at least for this year. Reform advocates, however, are still hoping something passes before the holiday recess.

Last week Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the majority whip in the House, told a group he met with in his home district that there was not enough time left this year to tackle immigration reform, according to the New York Times.

A group of protesters occupied McCarthy's office for 10 hours last week before the representative met with them. He reportedly told the protesters the 2013 session did not offer enough days to take on a divisive and complicated issue such as immigration reform, but he wanted to move during the 2014 session.

That does not mean reform advocates have given up, reports NBC Latino. More protests are scheduled for this week, and a group of young people is scheduled to visit Capitol Hill to discuss how deportations of their family members have affected them.

Frank Sharry, executive director of pro-reform organization America's Voice, called McCarthy's comments an "outrage," in a statement released Monday.

"The idea that there isn't enough time to vote on immigration reform is absurd. Right now, today, the votes exist to pass broad immigration reform with a path to citizenship. The House has November and December to find a few days to schedule it. Passing immigration reform isn't a matter of the calendar, it's a matter of will," Sharry said.

The Hill, however, is already writing a postmortem on immigration reform. In the first of a two-part report, The Hill's Russell Berman reveals that Democrats had a hand in squashing a reform bill in the House. Senate Democrats apparently were resistant to a comprehensive package making its way through the House in May that made concessions to the Republican lawmakers. The Democrats, Berman reports, did not want the House bill to come out before the Senate reform package.

"The White House and Senate Democrats did not want a more conservative House plan - designed to pass muster with a Republican majority - to emerge before the Gang of Eight's proposal had passed on the Senate floor," Berman writes.

"Lacking support from party leaders, Democrats in the House group suffered from internal divisions over how far to bend in their bid to reach a deal that could set up a compromise with the more favorable Senate bill. "

The second part of the report, focusing on the GOP role, is due out Wednesday.

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