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Washington Beat: Immigration Advocates Predict Boehner Could Begin To Support Reform

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TWC News: Washington Beat: Immigration Advocates Predict Boehner Could Begin To Support Reform
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After the U.S. Senate's landmark vote last week, immigration reform will soon head to the House of Representatives, but many Republican lawmakers are facing heavy pressure to oppose the bill. NY1's Washington reporter Michael Scotto filed the following report.

At the Washington headquarters of America's Voice, an immigration reform lobbying group, advocates are hard at work trying to bring their Senate victory to the unruly House.

"The House [Of Representatives] has never done this before. They need to strengthen a whole new muscle group," said Lynn Tramonte of America's Voice.

For House Speaker John Boehner, an acrobatics class might be in order, because the speaker is facing competing interests. On one side are national Republican leaders who think immigration reform will help the ailing party. On the other are his Tea Party members who are dead-set against putting undocumented immigrants on a pathway to citizenship.

"His problem is that there are a lot of House Republicans in safe districts, so they face no electoral incentive to pass immigration reform, but the party as a whole does need to do this," said Darrell West of the Brookings Institution.

Opponents of reform are trying to use that dynamic to their advantage.

"The members in the House know it is in their personal political best interest to oppose the bill, and I think that many of them are understanding that there is nothing to be gained in the presidential contest," said Roy Beck of NumbersUSA.

But immigration reform advocates are counting on something else. Next week, Boehner will meet with his caucus to discuss their next move, and it is during that meeting that they predict conservative voices in support of reform will begin to emerge.

"The unknown is whether there will be a sort of a groundswell or an uprising of Republicans who support reform who stand up and say enough is enough," said Tramonte.

So far the speaker has said that he will not bring the Senate bill up for a vote, and that any bill that does come before the House will need the support of his caucus.

Sen. Charles Schumer and immigration reform advocates believe Boehner will eventually change his mind. But making history could come at the expense of Boehner's own power.

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