Democrats stood on the east steps to the Capitol in snowy conditions to tag Republicans to make the next move in the ongoing political maneuvering over immigration reform.

On Wednesday, Democrats resorted to what amounts to filing a petition and gathering enough signatures to force House leadership to schedule a vote on a Democrat-sponsored version of the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in June.

There is little expectation their maneuver will work, but it has become a tactic for Democrats wanting to highlight before November's midterm elections what they say is GOP obstinance on important legislative issues.

So, despite freezing temperatures and biting winds, Democratic members and their allies stood outside the House to demand that House Speaker John Boehner put immigration reform to a vote.

“We are here to say the time is now. We cannot continue to be out of touch with America. It is time for you to put country before politics,” said California Rep. Xavier Becerra, House Democratic Caucus chairman, who was coatless.

As some spoke, light snow flurries and wind kicked up, whipping the small American flags some waved and creating an apt backdrop to the cold shoulder Democrats said Republicans are giving families separated by deportations.

“For nine months we’ve waited. We’ve given them time. We’ve heard the excuses. We’ve braved the weather, yet here we sit,” said Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., who is the chief sponsor of the Democrats’ comprehensive immigration reform bill, HR15. The bill is similar to one passed by the Senate last June.

The House rules require a majority of signatures on the petition, meaning Democrats need some Republican signatures, a requirement few expect to be reached.

“For nine months we’ve waited. We’ve given them time. We’ve heard the excuses. We’ve braved the weather, yet here we sit,” said Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla.

But politically, the petition is a way of pushing the issue back to the GOP, which has set aside immigration reform. The move also allows Democrats to show their base, particularly Latino voters, they have made every attempt to force action on immigration reform and the GOP has not.

Democrats, in the minority in the House, also have filed petitions on extending unemployment insurance benefits and raising the minimum wage that have yet to force votes on those issues.

Republicans refused to play along, calling the petition “political theater” and “dishonest.”

“Democrats want to keep posturing themselves with a discharge petition, which is not going to get anywhere,” said Izzy Santa, the Republican National Committee’s Hispanic media spokeswoman.

She said Republicans want meaningful reform, but President Barack Obama keeps “cherry-picking” laws to enforce and that is not building confidence among GOP members that he’ll enforce immigration laws. Democrats have dismissed that argument as an excuse, particularly since Republicans control the House and can pass the sort of immigration legislation they want.

The move also allows Democrats to show their base, particularly Latino voters, they have made every attempt to force action on immigration reform and the GOP has not.

But Santa said the president’s low approval numbers back the argument that he is losing trust of the American people. She pointed to a recent change on enrollment for Obamacare made by the president and said “the deportation problem is a thorn in their side.”

Obama has to help Republicans pass a bill that is strongly worded enough for the president to actually enforce it, she said. “It can’t be another Obamacare-style bill,” she said. But by not moving on immigration, Republicans may set the conditions for the president to act using executive powers, a move Obama has been pressured by some to take but has avoided.

The Democrats’ petition filing comes three days before the theater premiere of the movie "Cesar Chavez," based on the life of the labor organizer and civil rights hero, a Mexican-American who was born in Yuma, Ariz. America Ferrera of “Ugly Betty” fame, stars in the movie as Helen, the wife of Chavez. She was on hand at the discharge petition news conference.

“House leadership, every day that you refuse to act is another day eleven hundred families are torn apart by senseless deportations, so we are here demanding a vote for the families … hoping and praying they will not be one of the eleven hundred today,” said Ferrera, a child of immigrants.

Republicans refused to play along, calling the petition “political theater” and “dishonest.”

The Democrats’ move drew praise from the president who has been under fire over continuing deportations, including people detained soon after crossing the border.

“I applaud the efforts of Democrats in the House to give immigration reform the yes-or-no vote it deserves,” Obama said in a White House news release.

He noted the findings of a report by the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan arm of Congress that provides budget and economic analyses.

The CBO’s preliminary analysis found HR15 would lead to net federal deficit reductions, much like the Senate passed bill that served as its model, and significant deficit reductions in its second decade after enactment.

Obama said the findings reflect what most Americans already know, that “immigration reform is the “right thing to do for our economy, our security and our future.”

“The only thing standing in the way is the unwillingness of Republicans in Congress to catch up with the rest of the country,” Obama said.