With the prospects of passing comprehensive immigration reform this year continue to fade, House Democrats this week put pressure on their Republican counterparts by filing a discharge petition on Wednesday in an attempt to force a vote on the House version of the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate last summer. “It’s time for our Republican leadership in the House to give us a vote,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (D-CA). “Stop blocking a vote, let us have a path to fix our broken immigration system.”

This discharge petition stands little chance of actually forcing a vote.  Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi  (D-CA) herself admitted it has almost no chance of success and even the Republicans who have signed on as cosponsors of the comprehensive immigration bill are not endorsing it.  However, advocates view the mechanism as a push to Republican leadership and as a chance to get lawmakers on the record, especially a handful of members in immigrant-heavy swing districts to clarify their positions in starker terms, before the midterm elections.

The White House this week released the following statement:

Last year, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate came together to pass a commonsense bill to fix our broken immigration system – a bill that would grow our economy, shrink our deficits, and reward businesses and workers that play by the rules.  But so far, Republicans in the House have refused to allow meaningful immigration reform legislation to even come up for a vote.

That’s why, today, I applaud the efforts of Democrats in the House to give immigration reform the yes-or-no vote it deserves.  Like the Senate bill, the House bill would strengthen our borders, modernize our legal immigration system, and keep more families together.  It would make sure everyone plays by the same rules by providing a pathway to earned citizenship for those who are living in the shadows.  And according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, it would grow our economy and reduce our deficits by $900 billion over the next 20 years.

Immigration reform is the right thing to do for our economy, our security, and our future.  A vast majority of the American people agree.  The only thing standing in the way is the unwillingness of Republicans in Congress to catch up with the rest of the country.  And I want to thank the leaders in Congress who are doing their part to move us forward.

Meanwhile, as immigration reform languishes in Congress, the bigger action on immigration is on the executive side.  Immigration reform leaders continue to criticize President Obama for his fast pace of deportation and have called for the White House to issue an order to halt removals. Advocates for immigration reform are critical of the current contradictory policy where President Obama on the one side is calling for immigration to be overhauled, while deportations at a record pace continue.

President Obama has maintained that he lacked legal authority to make significant changes in immigration policy.  However, this month, after meeting with Hispanic lawmakers, Obama directed his new Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to review deportation policies.  Advocates for reform are pinpointing June as the tentative deadline for Republican action. After that, the possibility of immigration reform would disappear, and President Obama could be spurred to take further executive action.