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House conservatives weigh in on Senate immigration bill

Freshman Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Redding) says it might be easier to pass immigration reform in pieces
Freshman Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Redding) says it might be easier to pass immigration reform in pieces
Kitty Felde/KPCC

Conservative House Republicans raked the Senate immigration proposal over the coals at a lunch meeting Wednesday. The meeting featured one of the orchestrators of that bill, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. 

The closed door meeting of the Republican Study Group reportedly produced no fireworks, but lots of criticism. Most want to see tougher language on border security. The lawmakers in the Study Group also debated whether immigration reform should be tackled issue by issue.

California Central Valley Congressman Jeff Denham is a member of the Study Group. He's a big picture guy and says he believes "very strongly we have to have a comprehensive bill. There are too many different pieces to this that affect different segments of California." Pieces like temporary visas for both agricultural and high tech workers, for example.

But Redding Congressman Doug LaMalfa, who was also in the immigration meeting, isn't sure a comprehensive bill is politically pragmatic. "It's probably a bigger challenge to move one big lump all the way through the snake in one shot," he says, "instead of breaking it down into pieces." He adds that even if half a dozen different immigration bills were to pass the House, they'd still get lumped together when a conference committee sat down to reconcile the House and Senate versions of immigration reform.

The bipartisan House Gang of Eight is now a Gang of Seven; Idaho Republican Raul Labrador says he's writing his own proposal. The rest of the group continues to meet to write that big "lump" of a bill. They've met three times this week. The full Senate takes up its bill next week.