Washington: House Democrats deployed a little-used legislative move today to force a vote on a comprehensive immigration bill that would provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the US illegally and tighten border security.
The effort seemed doomed to fail but was designed to increase the election-year pressure on Republicans to act. "It is time for us to have a vote," said Rep Xavier Becerra, who joined with more than a dozen Democrats, advocates and actress America Ferrera to mark 273 days since the Senate passed a bipartisan bill.
They insisted that House Republican leaders act. Standing outside the Capitol, proponents argued that they had the necessary votes in the House for a bill that would provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally and tighten border security.
"We`re tired of the House of Representatives leaders and their refusal to act," Ferrera said.
Democrats introduced a discharge petition that requires the signature of 218 for legislative action, an effort that stands little chance of success as Republicans, even those supportive of immigration legislation, are unwilling to defy their leadership. Democrats hold 199 seats in the House and would need dozens of Republican supporters.
The Republicans are reluctant to vote on the divisive issue in an election year, especially with all signs pointing to major gains for Republicans in the November voting. After months of conciliatory talk, President Barack Obama issued a statement praising the Democratic effort and chastising the Republicans.