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Horsford helps draft new immigration reform; says, ‘Now is the time to get this done’

Rep. Steven Horsford

Karoun Demirjian

Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., speaks at a press conference in the Capitol announcing the launch of a new immigration bill he co-wrote with a group of House Democrats on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2013..

Updated Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013 | 2:23 p.m.

Immigration has largely been relegated to the back burner while Congress trades slugs amidst a federal government shutdown.

But today, a band of House Democrats — including both of Nevada’s Democratic representatives — tried to give it new life, releasing a comprehensive reform legislation they say they are “ready to move.”

“There is a broad and diverse coalition that understands how serious this is,” said Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., one of the drafters of the legislation. “We cannot let toxic obstructionism kill this common-sense proposal. … No more waiting. Now is the time to get this done.”

The legislation is a hybrid of various measures that lawmakers have already approved in various corners of the Capitol, from the House Homeland Security Committee hearing room to the Senate floor.

The bill is almost identical to the immigration bill the Senate passed in June. Like the Senate bill, it includes a campaign to secure the border in five years, adding 3,500 border patrol officers to the force; higher caps on temporary visas for high-skilled workers; a quick pathway to citizenship for young immigrants without status enrolled in college or the military (the Dream Act); and a 13-year pathway to citizenship for other immigrants without legal status.

House Democrats are pretty sure they can get the needed 218 votes for a comprehensive immigration reform bill that resembles the one 68 senators voted for in June. But to do that, they need House Republican leaders to put it on the floor — and Republicans are unlikely to move a purely Democratic bill.

U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., is a co-sponsor of the measure and praised its introduction.

Though there are no Republicans joining in this latest Democratic efforts, the House Democrats are trying to dispel the idea that their bill is a partisan proffer.

“Every piece of this legislation has had bipartisan support,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said. “That was important to us.”

But details that have been green-lighted by a minority of Senate Republicans will not likely convince House Republican leaders to take up a bill they had no direct hand in writing.

House Republicans, namely House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, is leading his own immigration-drafting process with members of the House GOP. Nevada Rep. Joe Heck is a part of that process.

Their game plan is to introduce and pass a series of smaller bills that, together, constitute comprehensive immigration reform.

But Cantor has not indicated when the Republicans might release the more politically challenging bills, such as measures to carve out pathways to citizenship, or at least legal status, for immigrants illegally in the United States.

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