House Republicans won't vote on 'massive' Senate immigration bill, to pursue smaller measures

House Republican leaders on Wednesday reaffirmed that they do not plan to vote on the "massive" Senate immigration bill, and instead will pursue a series of smaller bills, after a rowdy closed-door meeting with the rank and file.

Emerging from a closed-door meeting, leaders offered neither specifics nor a timetable -- nor any mention of possible citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country unlawfully.

“Today House Republicans affirmed that rather than take up the flawed legislation rushed through the Senate, House committees will continue their work on a step-by-step, common-sense approach to fixing what has long been a broken system," House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and other House GOP leaders said in a joint statement.

"The president has also demonstrated he is willing to unilaterally delay or ignore significant portions of laws he himself has signed, raising concerns among Americans that this administration cannot be trusted to deliver on its promises to secure the border and enforce laws as part of a single, massive bill like the one passed by the Senate.”

Cheers erupted in the meeting when leadership said they would not take up the Senate bill.

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    House lawmakers voiced concern about the possibility of passing a bill, and then leaving it up to a select team of lawmakers from each chamber -- known as a conference committee -- to come up with a compromise that they may not like.

    Those concerns could slow down the process in the House even further.

    One of the smaller measures would toughen enforcement of immigration laws, and includes a provision that would permit local police officers to enforce such laws as part of an attempt to raise the number of deportations. It also encourages immigrants in the United States illegally to depart voluntarily, an echo of Mitt Romney's call for "self-deportation" in the 2012 presidential race.

    Other measures would create a new mandatory system for employees to verify the legal status of their workers, create a new temporary program for farm workers and expand the number of visas for employees in technology industries.

    By contrast, the Senate bill, passed 68-32, would increase border security, provide a pathway to citizenship for many of the estimated 11 million immigrants illegally in the country, expand the highly skilled worker program and set up new guest worker arrangements for lower-skilled workers and farm laborers.

    Divided on immigration, House Republicans bluntly challenged President Barack Obama's willingness to secure the nation's borders on Wednesday, and appeared unimpressed by George W. Bush's advice to carry a "benevolent spirit" into a debate that includes a possible path to citizenship for millions.

    Instead, in a written statement noting that the White House recently delayed a key part of the health care law, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other leaders said the action raised concerns that the administration "cannot be trusted to deliver on its promises to secure the border and enforce laws as part of a single, massive bill like the one passed by the Senate."

    Fox News' Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.