Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 | 2 p.m.
As the Dec. 12 end of the U.S. House of Representatives' 2013 session inches closer, immigration-reform advocates are hoping for progress while House leaders are offering little concrete information on when debate on the issue will begin.
On Nov. 12 a coalition of immigration-reform advocates began a hunger protest called Fast For Families on the National Mall.
Over Thanksgiving weekend President Barack Obama visited the protesters and offered words of support.
Today, after 22 days of consuming only water, four of the fasters passed off the protest to new people, including Rep. Joe Kennedy III, who will start their own fast.
The group, which at the beginning included 17 fasters from labor, religious, social justice and various minority community organizations, issued an open letter asking to meet with House Speaker John Boehner and imploring him to bring immigration-reform legislation to the floor.
Boehner said recently immigration reform was "absolutely not" dead, after previously making it clear the House would not debate the Senate reform bill and would create its own legislation. Boehner offered no timetable for a vote.
The speaker today announced he had hired Rebecca Tallent as an immigration adviser. Tallent previously worked on immigration issues for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe, two GOP legislators that have supported reform efforts.
Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., chief of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said he did not expect immigration legislation to pass until late in 2014. His comments came at a discussion hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. Walden added he expected the House to follow a piece-by-piece approach to reform, with several bills instead of one sweeping legislative measure.
Previously resistant to such an approach, Obama announced earlier in November that he would support step-by-step reform as long as all of the steps get covered.
""If they want to chop that thing up into five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don't care what it looks like," Obama said at a Wall Street Journal forum. "What we don't want to do is simply carve out one piece of it ... but leave behind some of the tougher stuff that still needs to get done."