Cited as a priority issue by many members of Congress and Obama, 2013 came and went without an immigration package, to the chagrin of many advocacy groups.

McMorris Rodgers said she still thinks a deal could be struck before the election. “I believe there is a path that we get a bill on the floor by August,” she said.

A bipartisan plan was passed in the Senate last spring but made no headway in the Republican-controlled House. McMorris Rodgers echoed the concern brought up by many in the chamber, saying she wants to see stronger border security. But she said she’d support a bill that grants legal status to those undocumented immigrants working toward citizenship, allowing them to remain in the country to work and go to school while they wait their turn in the current system.

“We’re going to have to push that this is a legal status, not amnesty,” she said.

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House Speaker John Boehner did not endear himself to conservatives when he used a comical and whiny voice on Thursday to imitate how they opposed immigration reform, according to Stephen Moore, chief economist for The Heritage Foundation.

“I’ve always liked John Boehner. He’s been a pretty decent Speaker, but lately he has been mocking conservatives in a way that does not advance his cause,” Moore told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

“This causes friction within the conservative coalition within the House. Look, I’m actually in favor of immigration reform. We need to get that done in a responsible way, but you know, for him to mock his opponents and his own party, I don’t think serves his cause.”…

“Wherever you stand on immigration reform, it is nuts to be mocking people who oppose [it]. You’re not going to get a compromise in that way.”

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Raul Labrador, the Idaho Republican who last year served as a middleman between conservative House Republicans opposed to the Senate’s Gang of Eight bill and Democrats looking to drag it across the finish line, says he is “disappointed” with House speaker John Boehner’s recent comments, in which he mocked his Republican colleagues for their refusal to tackle immigration reform.

“I was disappointed with Speaker’s Boehner’s comments, and I think they will make it harder – not easier – to pass immigration reform,” Labrador said in a statement…

“The problem is Obama, not House Republicans,” he said. ”Speaker Boehner should have made that point, instead of criticizing the people he is supposed to be leading. I know Speaker Boehner sincerely cares about immigration reform as much as I do. If he wants the Republican Conference to follow him on this issue, he needs to stand up for House Republicans, instead of catering to the media and special interest groups.”

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“What these comments clearly illustrate is that when John Boehner and (House Democratic Leader) Nancy Pelosi sit down to talk about immigration, he is not representing the views of his people,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which opposes legal status for those now in the U.S. illegally. “He is working … to get Republicans to agree to Democrat objectives.”…

“There is nothing Boehner could say to his own supporters that they would believe,” Krikorian said. “This makes any kind of immigration legislation essentially impossible.”

Latino advocates and Capitol Hill Democrats responded with derision, saying it’s Boehner’s job as leader of the House to bring the issue to a vote, not to blame others. “He’s acting like he’s not the Speaker of the House,” said Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of America’s Voice, an immigration advocacy group…

Asked if Boehner was sending mixed messages on the issue, Holler said “doublespeak” was a better description. “There’s doublespeak that’s confusing everything,” he said.

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In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, Rep. Peter King joined a handful of moderate House Republicans urging an immigration-reform vote this year.

“It would be in our country’s national interest, as well as the interest of our party, if this could be achieved,” King wrote to Boehner in the letter released Friday.

“Republican policies of self-reliance and family values would have much appeal to immigrants if we take time to articulate them,” King said.

“I fully understand and appreciate the argument that illegal behavior should not be rewarded,” King wrote. “The reality though is that we are not going to deport 11 million immigrants.”

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“Just judging by the public comments, right now Boehner is the No. 1 who wants to get it done,” Jacoby said. “It’s always hard to read exactly where Mr. Cantor is, but he’s the author of a version of the Dream Act so it’s not like he’s against immigration reform.

Cantor has worked on legislation since last year that would grant legal status to illegal immigrants who were brought to the country at a young age. But Cantor has no plans to unveil the legislation, tentatively entitled the Kids Act, anytime soon…

A memo on the spring’s legislative agenda that Cantor released to the media Friday made no mention of immigration reform. It instead highlighted declining median household income, the need to replace ObamaCare with “patient-focused” reforms, legislation to modernize federal charter schools programs, and a resolution holding Lois Lerner, a former IRS official, in contempt of Congress…

“It’s not just Boehner versus everyone. On both sides you have these strong feelings. Some people are saying this isn’t the year but other people saying we really got to get to this,” said Jacoby.

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The Wall Street Journal reported that Boehner told some pro-reform donors just last week that he was “hellbent” on getting immigration reform passed this year. Every Republican I have spoken to since then has said, in so many words, “not a chance.”

Everyone in both parties, and everyone either advocating or opposing reform, knows Boehner could pass a reform bill, including the controversial legalization provisions, tomorrow with mostly Democrats and a few Republicans. It would make conservatives mad. More mad than his chastising comments from yesterday?

Retirement or reelection — just do it, Mr. Speaker, if you feel so strongly about it. No more path of least resistance.

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Boehner has also said several times — most notably during an interview with Jay Leno — that “a leader without followers is simply a man taking a walk.”

That’s the attitude he took during last year’s government shutdown and it’s the same approach he’s taking with immigration. In the fall, he urged his colleagues to avoid plunging the federal government into a partial government shutdown. Rank-and-file Republicans heard him out, but disagreed and Boehner heard them, so he re-calibrated. Republicans were badly bruised following the government shutdown as Boehner told them they would be.

A similar political dynamic for Republicans might eventually play out on immigration. For now, Boehner is concerned about maintaining and expanding the GOP majority in the House and in keeping his job as speaker. He needs to keep his conference focused on subjects popular with their base and away from areas that might stir up political controversy. And he needs to keep his colleagues happy in the event he decides to stay on as speaker.

Add it up and you get a simple conclusion: Immigration reform ain’t happening between now and November.

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It’s refreshing that the speaker has dropped the pretext of blaming Mr. Obama for the failure of immigration reform — among the greatest of this Congress’s many failures. For better or for worse (we’d say for the better), the president has signaled that he is willing to compromise to do a deal — to bulk up security on the southwestern border beyond what is sensible, perhaps to settle for legal status short of citizenship for the millions of immigrants now living in the shadows. Republicans are the obstacle.

The trouble is that this bracing shot of honesty from Mr. Boehner probably will not fix the underlying problem, which is a Republican Party that cannot see a future for itself, or for the nation, beyond its own predominantly white, aging electorate. House Republicans, rooted in parts of the country demographically distinct from an increasingly diverse nation, are loath to embrace the nation’s Hispanics in part because relatively few of them live or vote in their districts. As they cling to an older America, a new America is rising fast.

Some Republicans, including Mr. Boehner, Karl Rove and others, have seen this and tried to coax back-benchers toward a deal on immigration that would align Republican interests with a changing nation. So far they have failed — but at least in Mr. Boehner’s case, they are starting to level with the public as to why.

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“I think we finally have the policy right,” [Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.] said in a phone interview. “I think we have figured out a way to secure, to have border and interior security, holding the administration accountable for the enforcement … forcing the administration to enforce the law whether they want to or not. And I think we figured out a way to deal with the folks that are here in a way that is fair — fair, by the way, to those in the legal system … who are doing everything legally, and also deals with the folks that are here in a way that is fair and reasonable. And adheres, strictly adheres, to the rule of law…

Diaz-Balart said he thinks they’re close to a deal that can pass both chambers.

“It is as close as we have ever been. It is still a big, big, heavy lift,” he said. “I think we’re going to get there.”

“Getting legislation that can get you to that 218 you need is not easy on this issue,” he said, but “I feel really good about it.”

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