Two border caucus members of Congress are hoping to resurrect the House of Representatives’ push earlier in the session to pass comprehensive immigration reform, even as news came late last week that the House’s “Gang of Eight,” which was leading the effort, had all but dissolved.

South Texas Rep. Filemon Vela and Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva filed a bill Sept. 20 in an effort to get immigration reform passed this session.

Although the Senate’s Gang of Eight managed to pass a bill, its bipartisan counterpart in the House — made up of four Republicans and four Democrats — has run into problems throughout the session, as one Republican, Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho, left the group in June over concerns about health care.

The group continued as a “Gang of Seven,” but the defection of two more Republicans makes the prospect of passing immigration legislation this year even more uncertain.

In a statement, Texas Rep. John Carter, a Republican from Round Rock, said the decision by him and fellow Texas Rep. Sam Johnson of Plano to leave the group was mistrust of the administration of President Barack Obama.

Citing changes the executive branch made to the Affordable Care Act, Carter appeared to suggest that he would not be in favor of passing comprehensive immigration reform so long as Obama is in office.

“If past actions are the best indicators of future behavior, we know that any measure depending on the president’s enforcement will not be faithfully executed,” he said in a statement. “It would be gravely irresponsible to further empower this administration by granting them additional authority or discretion with a new immigration system.”

With only 31 days left in the session, not counting the days members of Congress will be in Washington discussing the debt ceiling, the two Republicans’ self-removal from the group appeared to put an end to the hopes of reform this year.

Rising from the ashes of the House gang, however, is Vela’s bill, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2013.

The bill most notably differs from the Senate’s bill in that while it calls for improved border security and a path to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented residents, it doesn’t condition the implementation of one for completion of the other.

The Senate version creates hurdles that must be accomplished concerning border security before the path to citizenship can be granted, while Vela’s version allows both to stand alone.

And that distinction is deliberate, Vela said.

“We’re talking about the 11 million that are already here,” he said of the path to citizenship. “For sure we need to put in place security measures, and they can take many shapes.

“But it shouldn’t be conditional.”

Vela said his bill also includes provisions concerning economic interests, which, along with security and citizenship, he said was the third leg of the stool that is comprehensive immigration reform.

The bill establishes a federal commission on immigration and labor markets to develop immigration-centric policies for economic growth while revising temporary worker programs and visas.

CIR ASAP also has no provisions for additional Border Patrol agents — a far cry from the nearly 20,000 agents the Senate version provides, an increase that would double the current force.

The bill makes the path to citizenship more affordable, as well, calling for the fine for being undocumented to be cut in half to $500, plus legalization application fees.

It also provides measures to keep families together, allowing the government greater discretion to waive policies to reunite families.

Only undocumented immigrants who have contributed to the United States without felonies or three or more misdemeanors would be eligible under Vela’s bill.

Having just introduced the bill, Vela noted how difficult it was to envision how amendments and changes by his colleagues could alter the bill, but said he would vote against any amendments that sought to make the path to citizenship dependent on border security.

That said, he didn’t rule out voting for the bill if those amendments were added anyway, noting that he would have to evaluate the bill as a whole.

“You don’t know what you’re voting on until the fat lady sings,” he said.

Vela Files Immigration Bill to Return Focus on Reform