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Conservative Infighting Over Immigration Reform Grows

Conservative leader Holtz-Eakin dismisses expected Heritage critique as "not relevant to immigration reform in any way."

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WASHINGTON — Conservative supporters of a comprehensive immigration reform plan are stepping up their efforts to provide Republicans with cover for a looming vote in the Senate, pushing back against their brethren at the Heritage Foundation and other groups that have launched an assault on the proposal.

On Thursday, American Action Forum President Doug Holtz-Eakin unleashed the latest in a series of conservative broadsides against Heritage for it's 2007 report questioning the costs of giving 11 million undocumented workers a pathway to citizenship.

"The study is not relevant to immigration reform in any way. That is, a paper presumably about reform does not shed any light on what reform legislation would do," Holtz-Eakin writes in a blog post published Thursday morning. Holz-Eakin, who is the former director of the Congressional Budget Office, also points to a 2006 report by Heritage that was far less critical of immigration reform as a "better-designed and well-reasoned economic analysis."

Heritage is currently in the process of updating it's 2007 report, which will reportedly make the case that the federal budget will sky-rocket as the 11 million new citizens begin to take advantage of federal benefits.

For weeks a loose coalition of groups including American Action Forum, the Hispanic Leadership Network, the Cato Institute and the Chamber of Commerce have been waging war against Heritage and other hard-line conservative opponents of immigration reform. The push for reform clearly has significant momentum in both chambers and influential lawmakers like Sens. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio are on board. But with a deal expected to be announced in the Senate as soon as this week, conservative opponents have ramped up their efforts to block the legislation.

Earlier this week, Heritage President Jim DeMint dismissed the criticisms, telling bloggers and reporters, "Sounds like Washington to me."

John Stanton is a senior national correspondent for BuzzFeed News. In 2014, Stanton was a recipient of the National Press Foundation’s 2014 Dirksen Award for distinguished reporting of Congress.

Contact John Stanton at

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