(CA Republican congressman David Valadao, at right, is seen here with his family and with House Speaker John Boehner. Photo/courtesy of Rep. David Valadao)

Third Republican signs on to Democrats’ immigration bill, saying it “cannot wait”

Republican Rep. David Valadao endorsed the Democrats’ House immigration bill Wednesday saying it “cannot wait.”

Valadao joins Republican Reps. Jeff Denham, also of California and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from Florida in supporting the sweeping immigration reform legislation.

“Addressing immigration reform in the House cannot wait,” Valadao said in a statement.

Valadao, who has a district with a significant Latino constituency, said he’s been working to find common ground with Democrats on immigration reform.

Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers of America, said in a statement: “We are glad to see he’s a man of his word and has moved into action to help pass a common sense approach to fixing our broken immigration system. A revised system that is fair to agricultural workers and makes business sense will benefit our Central Valley, state and country.”

Valadao said recently he has been trying to muster like-minded Republicans to demonstrate to his party leadership’s “broad support within the party to address immigration reform in the House by the end of the year.”

The California congressman is one of 10 Republicans targeted by the Latino Victory Project, a group conceived by actress Eva Longoria and Democratic National Committee Finance Chair Hector Muñoz. The group has pledged to spend $20 million to target the Republicans in the 2014 elections.

Valadao’s spokeswoman Anna Vitter said the congressman had generally agreed with much of the Democrats’ bill but had held off endorsing because of some technical concerns which he worked out with Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla, the bill’s sponsor.

The bill is largely similar to the comprehensive immigration bill passed in the Senate. However, Democrats removed the Senate’s border security section and replaced it with a border security measure passed by the House Homeland Security Committee.

The GOP has passed four other immigration bills, opting to tackle the issue an area at a time rather than with a sweeping bill. Critics have said it has been an attempt to delay on the issue, but House Speaker John Boehner has said immigration is an issue that needs to be addressed.

“I am serious about making real progress and will remain committed to doing whatever it takes to repair our broken immigration system,” Valadao said.

Garcia thanked Valadao for his support.

Valadao’s endorsement follows a gathering in Washington Tuesday of hundreds of conservative business people, evangelicals, politians and people in agriculture, who met with House members to push for immigration reform.

Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigration reform advocacy organization, America’s Voice, said after Valadao’s statement: ““Another day, another crack in the dam blocking immigration reform.  This is what momentum looks like… But when it comes to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and the House leadership, the silence is deafening.  When are they going to move immigration reform forward? “

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