WASHINGTON — A push to bring immigration legislation to the House floor, led by an unusual coalition of business executives, prominent conservatives and evangelical leaders, threatens to create another schism in the Republican Party and could have a noticeable effect on campaign contributions in advance of midterm elections.
Several Republican executives and donors who are part of a lobbying blitz coming to Capitol Hill next week said they were considering withholding, or have decided to withhold, future financial support to Republican lawmakers whom they believe are obstructing progress on immigration.
"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," said Justin Sayfie, a lawyer from Florida who said he had helped Mitt Romney raise more than $100,000 for his presidential campaign last year, in addition to helping other Republican candidates. "But we have what we have. This is October 2013. And the country will be better off if we fix it."
Capitol Hill has for months been the focus of immigration advocates, urging lawmakers to take up one of the four measures that have been approved by the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee. What is different about next week's lobbying effort is that it will include about 600 mostly conservative leaders in business, agriculture and religion who will focus on 80 representatives from 40 states — all of them Republican.
Although House Republican leaders — including Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader — have expressed support for moving on their own immigration measure this year, given that the Senate has passed a comprehensive bill, the prospect for any legislation before year's end is uncertain.
There is intense division within the party over the proposals under consideration, and some hard-line conservative members have made it clear they have no interest in advancing a key part of President Barack Obama's agenda.
Even some who support a measure to increase border security say they would not vote for such a bill, fearing that it could become a vehicle to grant citizenship to an estimated 11 million immigrants in the United States illegally.
"We have seen the character of this president and the way that he does business," said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, explaining why he would oppose any measure.