A bipartisan group of House negotiators is even further along in drafting a comprehensive immigration overhaul than its counterpart in the Senate, but the path to passage in the lower chamber is lined with thorns.

Republican House leaders from Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) on down have not decided how to handle the vexing issue, even as they have voiced general support for “addressing” it in 2013.

For now, Boehner and his lieutenants are keeping a watchful eye both on the Senate and a secretive band of reformers in the House, whose work the Speaker himself thrust into the open during a speech to the Ripon Society last month.

That group, sources say, is trying to release a draft bill directly before or after President Obama’s State of the Union address on Feb. 12. Releasing an actual legislative text would put the House group out in front of the coalition of eight Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, who issued only a five-page framework of principles on Jan. 28.

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