House Republican leaders met today with the GOP members who are working with Democrats to craft a comprehensive immigration reform bill, indicating they've made "real progress" on the issue, according to a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., met this morning with the House Republicans involved in the talks, including Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.; Raul Labrador, R-Id.; and Sam Johnson, R-Texas.
"The speaker had a good talk with the Republicans in the bipartisan immigration reform group," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement to CBS News. "They've made real progress on a tough issue. They will continue to meet and work among themselves, with the committees of jurisdiction, outside groups, and others in our conference."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also believes the group has made "significant progress," her spokesman Drew Hammill said, after meeting yesterday with the Democratic negotiators -- Reps. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif.; Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.; John Yarmuth, D-Ky.; and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.
Both Democrats and Republicans have expressed strong interest in passing a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform package. The bipartisan group in the House was hoping to unveil a plan before Easter, but a source familiar with the negotiations said it's more likely to emerge soon after Congress' Easter recess.
Along with the issue of what to do about the undocumented immigrants in the country, the group is working on the tricky issue of controlling the future flow of immigrants into the U.S.
The negotiators are striving to strike the right balance between satisfying the immigrant community, primarily concerned with stopping deportations, and conservatives in Congress concerned about primary challenges, a source familiar with the talks said. The challenge this issue presents for conservatives was made plain this morning at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where Donald Trump called immigration reform a "" for the GOP. The "11 million illegals, even if given the right to vote - you know you're going to have to do what's right - but the fact is 11 million people will be voting Democrat," he said.
Labrador, as a Hispanic tea partier and a former immigration lawyer, may be key to helping bring the GOP conference on board with the plan.