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Immigration: now it's all about Congress repeating the talking points (Update)

House Speaker John Boehner focuses on immigrants who overstay visas — a GOP talking point.
House Speaker John Boehner focuses on immigrants who overstay visas — a GOP talking point. Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Republicans made it clear this week that no immigration legislation will come to the floor until after the August recess — and a path to citizenship isn't likely to be part of any bill its members put forward.

That's in conflict with the bipartisan bill being crafted by the so-called "Gang of 7." One of its members, L.A. Democrat Xavier Becerra, said Friday their bill will definitely include a path to citizenship.

Until that gets resolved — and it may be a while — it's now "spin" time for both parties.

Or, as Yogi Berra once said, "It's déjà vu all over again."

For Democrats such as L.A. Congressman Tony Cardenas, the message is aimed at House GOP members, reminding them that a lot of other Republicans support immigration reform. "As they call them," he says, "the 3 Bs."

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi explains: "Badges — the law enforcement community; the Business community; the Bible folks. Many of those are Republicans." And, Democrats say, many support a path to citizenship.

Republicans such as Congressman Jeff Denham of Turlock have their own talking points, shifting the focus away from blanket amnesty for those who crossed the border illegally.

"Forty percent of our undocumented population came here with visas that are now expired," he says. "We have to address that as well."

House Speaker John Boehner hits that same point, saying, "40 percent of those who are here undocumented came here legally." Boehner says there’s no real system to to track those who overstay their visas.

The Republican focus could be an effort to attract House GOP votes for partial legalization — granting legal status to some, but not all, of the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in the U.S. The most attractive group are the so-called "dreamers."

"The Hill" is reporting House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte are working on their own bill that would grant citizenship to children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. Cantor told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute earlier this year that "a good place to start" with immigration reform "is with the kids."

Democrats, however, appear to be standing firm that they want a comprehensive bill with a pathway to citizenship, not the partial measures proposed by the GOP.

The talking points repeated by both Democrats and Republicans are aimed more at next year's mid-term elections than this year's immigration bills. Expect another three weeks of similar sound bites until the August recess.

Editor's Note: This story has been corrected to show Congressman Jeff Denham is from Turlock, not Fresno.

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