A woman holds up a sign during a protest rally for immigrants rights on Capitol Hill in Washington October 8, 2013.
Image Reuters

House Republicans were set to meet privately on Thursday to hold a vote on who would succeed former majority leader Eric Cantor, who lost his primary race last week to Tea Party upstart Dave Brat. Four lawmakers declared their candidacy shortly afterward -- Reps. Kevin McCarthy of California (third-ranking Republican in the chamber and favorite to win), Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Peter Roskam of Illinois, and Marlin Stutzman of Indiana -- with a fifth, Raúl Labrador of Idaho, throwing his hat in the ring late last week. All of them are nominally pro-reform, but emphasize border security as the top priority, saying it should come before any legalization measures for the undocumented.

  1. Kevin McCarthy

McCarthy is number three among House Republicans and has substantial alliances across the party. He says he supports the idea of giving many undocumented immigrants legal status, though not the separate path to citizenship offered by the Senate bill.Immigration activists consider him “vulnerable” to pressure on a reform -- his Bakersfield district is about 35 percent Latino -- and as NPR reports, they’ve held sit-ins every week at his offices since.

  1. Peter Roskam

Of the five, Roskam has sounded most amenable to the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate over a year ago before House Republicans refused to bring it to a vote.Not long after it passed the Senate, he called the argument that the bill -- which among a host of other things, would have put some 8 million undocumented immigrants on the path to citizenship -- would give a boost to the economy “really compelling”, though he also said the bill ought to be broken into smaller pieces before being considered by the lower chamber. But Roskam’s voting record on immigration is still pretty conservative. In 2010 he cast his vote against that year’s version of the DREAM Act, which would have offered a conditional permanent resident status to young undocumented immigrants; in 2014 he also voted for a Steve King amendment to an appropriations bill to defund DACA.

  1. Raúl Labrador

Labrador probably has the most experience working on immigration issues. He was a member of the House “Gang of 8” tasked with writing that chamber’s bipartisan version of a comprehensive bill -- a task at which the group ultimately failed, after Labrador dropped out of the group over disputes about how to handle health care for undocumented immigrants. The rest of the group’s Republican members soon followed, citing distrust of the president’s willingness to enforce border-security measures. Since then, as opposition to a compromise on reform has mounted from Tea Partiers, Labrador has taken an increasingly tough approach to GOP leaders’ efforts, saying at one point that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) should lose his speakership if he were to introduce immigration bills to the House floor this year.

  1. Steve Scalise

Scalise, like most House Republicans, is “border-first” on reform and has opposed the Senate bill for what he says are insufficient measures on securing the border and “amnesty” for the undocumented.He’s also from a quite conservative district with a low Latino population (about 7 percent), and chairs the Republican Study Committee (RSC), which has for years challenged GOP leaders from the right, serving as a kind of alternative caucus for the most conservative Republicans in the chamber.

  1. Marlin Stutzman

Stutzman is aligned with the Tea Party and hits all the Tea Party notes on immigration.His website accuses undocumented immigrants of burdening Americans by taking advantage of welfare benefits, and charges them with “exploit[ing]” the law by which children born on American soil are automatically US citizens.

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