House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said Friday at Hollywood’s “Creativity Conference” in Washington that there is a “grand bargain” in the works on amnesty.

ABC News’s Rick Klein Tweeted that Goodlatte told ABC reporter Jon Karl at the event that he is “still searching for ‘grand bargain’ on status of undocumented immigrants,” and that Goodlatte does “believe it will happen.”…

Goodlatte, however, would not predict during the interview when such amnesty legislation would pass. “My job isn’t to predict when it’s going to happen. My job is to build the consensus that we need to have immigration reform,” Goodlatte said.

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The signs of life for a revitalized push for an immigration overhaul are suddenly popping up everywhere:

Sen. Mike Lee, telling Fox News on Monday that “most members” of the Republican Conference in the House are actually “eager to pass some sort of immigration reform.” The Utah Republican, one of the most visible spokesmen of the tea-party-wing of the party, cautioned that immigration legislation “needs to be broken up. It needs to be taken step by step. One step at a time.”…

California Democrat Xavier Becerra, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, jumped on McMorris Rodgers’ comments. “It’s important to recognize the statement of House GOP Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers joining those in support of a vote in the House to fix our broken immigration system,” he said Monday in a statement. “The more time Members of Congress spend with their constituents, the more they come to realize how truly important immigration reform is. … The time to vote is now.”…

Galen Carey, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Evangelicals, told the Christian Post last week that members of the speaker’s staff have assured him there would be an opportunity to take up immigration in June and July. Carey is part of a collection of more than 200 evangelicals from 25 states who plan a pro-immigration reform meeting in Washington on Tuesday.

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“We have to man the watchtowers 24/7,” said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), referring to a feeling among hard-liners that House leaders will try to sneak through immigration measures…

“It is difficult to plan a specific course of action when the leadership keeps tossing out vague ways to give amnesty to illegal aliens,” Brooks said. The sophomore lawmaker added: “When we see a specific plan from the House leadership, then those of us who favor American citizens first will have a better idea of where the leadership is specifically going and how we will specifically respond.”…

These anti-immigration reform conservatives are now scouring House bills with renewed vigor, looking for provisions in legislative language that could potentially lead to a House-Senate immigration conference, King said. They’re doing so despite repeated assurances from Boehner that House Republicans will not negotiate on the comprehensive Senate bill…

Asked about recent developments on immigration, Diaz-Balart said he now pegs the chances of immigration reform at about 45 percent, adding: “I think 15 [percent] is the highest I ever went before.”

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Sen. Ted Cruz gathered a group of House conservatives in his office Tuesday night, talking about immigration and House GOP leadership elections slated for after the midterm elections…

[Rep. Mo Brooks] said immigration — and new proposals being floated after Boehner mocked some of his members over the issue — was a major topic. Brooks said Boehner’s comments were “astonishing” and that the Cruz group “naturally” discussed them.

Brooks said his view is that Republicans needed “more diversity” in leadership.

“Right now, we have the top four leaders in the House, none of them are from a Mitt Romney state; all of them are from an Obama state. That’s not diversity. None of the four are from the conservative half of the GOP conference,” he said.

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A memo outlining the legislative agenda for Republicans in the House of Representatives lists replacement of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law as a priority for the coming weeks but does not mention plans to tackle immigration reform.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sent the memo to fellow Republicans as they returned from a two-week recess, employing a regular tool to help keep the party unified on its political message in the run-up to congressional elections in November…

Some immigration reform advocates say there is a very short window for passing any bills this year. If Congress doesn’t vote on anything before the traditional August recess, the issue will become too politically charged ahead of the November 4 elections.

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Over the past two decades, the United States has run an immigration policy that has substantially increased poverty in this country. Two-thirds of immigrant households—that is counting both immigrants and their U.S.-born children—from Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala live in poverty or near-poverty. Other Latin-American immigrant groups fare only a little less badly: more than 50 percent among Salvadorans; just less than 50 percent among Cubans.

Even long-established immigrants are disproportionately likely to stay poor. Among immigrants (of all origins) who have resided in the United States for longer than 20 years, the poverty rate is 30 percent higher than among the native born (of all races).

As the United States debates an immigration reform that will substantially increase the flow of unskilled immigrants, Americans need to keep in mind that the debate over how much immigration to welcome is also a debate about how much more poverty to accept.

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House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has made a calculated and coherent decision to leave the right wing of the GOP behind, and move his party closer to the center, isolating radical and discredited Republican rightists such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). There will be major consequences for Boehner’s move, including the likely passage of a strong immigration reform bill — which will include some credible path to citizenship — before Election Day.

I never agreed with those Republicans and commentators who claimed that immigration reform was dead. That was never true. It is not true today. Boehner’s recent public tongue-lashing, in surprisingly derisive tones, of anti-immigration conservatives in the House Republican Conference was striking and revealing.

Boehner understands that it would be politically poisonous for Republicans to kill immigration reform before the election and to be accused of a war against Hispanics as they are accused of a war against women. President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are stepping into the breach and moving aggressively to seize the moment. Boehner wants an immigration reform bill. With Boeher’s change of heart, most likely a strong immigration bill will pass before Election Day or Republicans will be blamed by Hispanics, accused of a war against them, and pay a heavy price in November.

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“I’m in the camp that would much prefer that Congress move to pass something,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-reform advocacy organization. “I think if they don’t, the president will be forced to act and I hope he acts boldly and I hope he protects a lot of people.”…

“I haven’t given up hope completely, but my goodness, [House Republicans] issue principles one week and seven days later they have to slam the brakes on,” Sharry said. “They have such an easy time getting to ‘no’ and such a hard time getting to ‘yes’ that it’s hard to be optimistic.”

A senior Democratic aide with direct knowledge of House negotiations said expectations are similarly low inside the Capitol. Despite positive comments from Reps. Joe Barton and Cathy McMorris Rogers on the prospects for reform late last week, the aide said that Republicans have not finished drafting legislative language for their primary reform bill, a difficult and time-consuming job. As GOP progress slowly grinds on, the aide said Democratic lawmakers are increasingly acting under the assumption that it will be Obama, not Boehner, who makes the first substantive move on immigration reform.

“I think for once the president might show some leadership,” the aide said. “We’ll see.”

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