House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., gives his opening remarks on Capitol Hill Feb. 5 during the committee's hearing on immigration. / Susan Walsh, AP
WASHINGTON -- A bipartisan group of House members that have been secretly meeting for years to negotiate a sweeping immigration bill on Wednesday praised a just-released Senate proposal to overhaul immigration laws and grant eventual citizenship to millions of people in the country illegally.
After the Senate so-called Gang of Eight unveiled an 844-page immigration bill Wednesday morning, members of the House group responded with a joint statement, applauding the efforts and saying their version isn't far behind.
"Americans want to see the nation's broken immigration system fixed, and they know it will take bipartisanship to solve this problem in a sensible and rational way," the statement read. "This week, a bipartisan group of senators stepped forward to introduce their proposal, and we applaud their effort."
The statement is signed by the eight members of the House group: Reps. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., John Carter, R-Texas, Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., Sam Johnson, R-Texas, Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and John Yarmuth, D-Ky.
The statement also said that the group "will soon agree" on its plan.
Conservative Republicans who oppose what they say is the Senate bill's "amnesty" for the estimated 11 million unauthorized foreign citizens living in the United States have said they will insist on a House version that emphasizes security.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, one of the most vocal proponents in Congress for strict immigration enforcement, has been pressuring colleagues to slow down on plans to overhaul the system.
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