Immigration reform is dividing the Republican Party

Now that the government shutdown has ended, and budgetary issues have been moved down the road, immigration reform is once again front and center in the political debate. And for Republicans in Washington, D.C., that debate has recently evolved into one that could split the party

Conservative groups advocating for reform
A broad coalition of politically conservative groups, including business executives, prominent pundits and evangelical leaders, are pressuring federal lawmakers to pass immigration reform legislation. But with many Republicans in Congress resisting such efforts, there is a struggle going on within the party’s ranks that could lead to a major schism, according to The New York Times.

Many of those conservative groups are threatening to withhold donations to any Republican legislator who hinders the immigration reform process, and that could be just the kind of threat that inspires action.

“I respect people’s views and concerns about the fact that we have a situation in the United States where we have millions of undocumented immigrants,” Justin Sayfie, a lawyer from Florida who helped raise money for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign last year, told the Times. “But we have what we have. This is October 2013. And the country will be better off if we fix it.”

Three House Republicans join the effort
According to USA Today, Republican Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Fla., Jeff Denham, Calif., and David Valadao, Calif., have all joined House Democrats to support an overhaul of the nation’s immigration law similar to the one passed by the Senate over the summer. However, with 218 votes needed for passage in the House, and 186 Democratic co-sponsors, the three Republicans who have joined with them still aren’t enough to ensure the bill’s success.

The debate over whether to handle reform in one sweeping bill or in a step-by-step fashion is still raging in the capital, but with these latest developments, momentum appears to be rapidly shifting in favor of some sort of major reform, including a path to U.S. citizenship for people who are in the country illegally.