"House Republicans, in crafting immigration principles, should reply to the president's immigration campaign with a simple message: Our focus is to help unemployed Americans get back to work, not to grant amnesty or to answer the whims of immigration activists and CEOs," Sessions said in his memo.
The Associated Press obtained a copy of Sessions' critique.
Notably, two members of the House leadership, Boehner and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., spoke about dealing with the broken immigration system in their responses to Obama's State of the Union address. Unclear is how rank-and-file Republicans will respond, especially with a great deal of GOP wariness about whether Obama can be trusted to enforce an immigration law.
Obama's waiver or suspension of provisions of his four-year-old health care law have increased suspicions among Republicans, and Sessions' analysis highlighted the president's State of the Union comments that he might act unilaterally on some issues if Congress balks.
Diaz-Balart expressed cautious optimism, putting the odds of House action on immigration at 30 percent, up from 5 percent earlier.
"There's a consensus that the system is broken and I'm seeing more and more a desire to fix it," he said in an interview. "Speaker Boehner has been very clear, leadership has been very clear. We're going to do it methodically, that we're going to look at it case by case, step by step, we're not going to rush it."
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