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Deadline for Immigration Overhaul Is August, Says Diaz-Balart (Video)

Mario Diaz-Balart sees August as the deadline for immigration legislation this year (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The deadline to pass immigration legislation is this August, said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., who is part of the effort to develop an immigration bill that could pass the House.  

“The legislative process in essence, frankly, has to work on deadlines. There’s a deadline. And the deadline is that if we don’t get it done by August it doesn’t happen,” Diaz-Balart told CQ Roll Call at the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute’s awards gala Thursday.  

“If Congress doesn’t act by the August break, the president is going to do something. And once that happens, two things happen,” said Diaz-Balart. “No. 1 is that the possibility of any further negotiations — of any — disintegrate.”  

The Florida Republican added that if there is executive action on immigration, the president "will also then create a narrative of his choosing and again creating a situation where no further negotiations are possible.”  

Diaz-Balart told CQ Roll Call in April that lawmakers had developed a policy that would adequately address concerns about border security and the 11 million unauthorized immigrants.  

"So I feel optimistic that we’re going get it done because I think most people in the House understand that what we have is unacceptable," said Diaz-Balart, once again adding, "And if we don’t get it done by this August, it just doesn’t get done."  

Although he is optimistic, Diaz-Balart cautioned that an immigration overhaul still faces an uphill climb to pass the House. However, Diaz-Balart said, “I wouldn’t be working this hard at it if I didn’t think there was a legitimate chance of getting it done.”  

The Florida Republican would not say whether House Republican leadership was receptive to his plan but he did say, "I’ve spoken to everybody."  

On Thursday, Diaz-Balart stood with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., in the garden of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in D.C. as Cantor received a Leadership in Public Service Award from CHLI. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, also received an award.  

Outside the hotel, more than a dozen protesters chanted “Cantor, give us a vote!”  

Pressure to address immigration policy has been growing for both Republicans and Democrats.  

More than 250 protesters are expected to march to the White House Friday afternoon to pressure the president to reject the so-called "detention bed quota" that requires 34,000 immigrants to be held in detention centers. Last week, a dozen people were arrested outside of the White House as part of a rally against deportations that involved roughly 1,500 protesters.  

Diaz-Balart's optimism comes at a time of uncertainty surrounding an immigration overhaul. Although there have been recent signs that immigration could be addressed this year, Speaker John A. Boehner told House Republicans last week that there is no "conspiracy" to address immigration policy without their support.