Nestor Jimenez, right, and his bother Carlos Jimenez, of El Salvador, hold the American flag as they join immigration supporters during a rally for citizenship on Capitol Hill in in Washington, Wednesday, July 10, 2013, coinciding with the GOP House Caucus meeting. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

House Republicans divided on immigration but united against comprehensive approach

Following a day of contentious immigration reform meetings, the prospects for the sweeping overhaul bill passed by the Senate looks worse than it has all year.

House Republicans came out of a two-hour closed door meeting on immigration Wednesday, defiant that the Senate bill would make any progress in the House. While the meeting didn’t yield any breakthroughs among the divided GOP conference, Republican leaders made it clear that any legislation that gives the Obama administration too much responsibility will not go anywhere in the House.

“Rather than take up the flawed legislation rushed through the Senate, House committees will continue their work on a step-by-step, common-sense approach to fixing what has long been a broken system,” said Republican leaders including Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte in a statement.

GOP members shrugged off former President George W. Bush’s nudge on immigration, calling on Congress to reach a “positive resolution” on the issue.

“America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time,” he said at a naturalization ceremony at his presidential center in Dallas.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) directly addressed Bush’s comments.

“We care what people back home say, not what some former president says,” he said.

Some lawmakers said there was support for a version of the DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants brought to the country by family members.

“I think there’s a consensus that we definitely need to do something about them, you know their stories are very compelling,” said Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, who was working on bipartisan negotiations for years until abandoning them last month.

However, others said that there was no support for a comprehensive approach which would provide a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country. Whatever the plan, it has become a stark reality that the House is unlikely to deal with all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the same way. Instead, different groups could be treated differently, with agricultural workers having their rules and DREAMers having another.

Despite the competing visions of reform, one thing was clear: there is no set timetable.

“I don’t sense any urgency,” said Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana.

President Obama and Vice President Biden met with two key senators playing a major role in the immigration overhaul this morning, Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, and New York Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer. McCain and Schumer were both part of the bipartisan Senate Gang of Eight.

Coming out of the White House meeting,  both senators sounded optimistic about the House coming up with immigration legislation. Sen. Schumer called yesterday’s Republican House meeting “encouraging.”

“We are ready to negotiate,” Senator McCain said to House Republicans.

Still he signaled that it could take a while to get the ball rolling action on reform.

“I would be surprised if any significant action is taken by the House leadership before the August recess,” he said.

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