Anti-Immigration Hard-Liners Remain Most United in GOP Caucus

Moderate Republicans offer myriad solutions but no consensus.

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, emerges from a closed-door meeting with House Republicans to work on an approach to immigration reform, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, July 10, 2013.
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The future of immigration reform appeared as murky as ever as House Republicans emerged from their first caucus meeting on comprehensive reform late Wednesday.

"This is a huge issue for the country and different places in the country see this issue differently. If you are a border state, border security is everything to you. If you are in New York and you are constantly trying to get new talent for high-tech companies, the visa reform part is really relevant to us," says Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y.

"It really is something all members have to be engaged in because the differences in our districts and our states are so varied."

[READ: Study: Immigration Reform Would Boost Tax Revenues]

A few things were certain, however. Here are four takeaways from the meeting:

1. The Senate bill is dead on arrival in the House: At roughly 1,200 pages, Republicans lamented that the Senate bill is too long and cumbersome to survive a vote on the House floor. And House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, assured his caucus once again Wednesday that he'd continue to pursue a piecemeal approach to immigration reform and he would not bring any bill to the floor that could not attract a majority of his caucus.

"The Senate bill is not good for America; their bill is great for the immigrant," says Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla. "If I were an immigrant here illegally, I would do whatever I could for that bill. That bill is good for them, not our country."

Many conservatives argued that the Senate bill simply leaves too much to the discretion of the Obama administration, including border security.

"This president has displayed an astonishing hubris to ignore the law as it is written," says Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. "And if he prevails in that practice, then the rest of us can simply go home."

[READ: Does the House GOP Have Anything to Lose by Voting Against Immigration Reform?]

2. House Republicans are not in a hurry to pass immigration reform: While the president announced this week he'd be holding rallies in upcoming months in vulnerable Republican congressional districts in New Mexico, Colorado, Florida and perhaps Nevada to keep the spotlight on immigration reform and put pressure on the GOP, House Republicans aren't in any hurry to pass a bill on the floor and move it to conference committee.

"If the president spent more time working with the Congress instead of trying to undermine it, it would be helpful," says Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. "But after five years now, I don't expect it."

Rep. John Fleming, R- La., said it was "100 percent unlikely" that the House would move a bill by the end of July.

"We are going to go back to our districts and talk to our constituents. That is what August is for," he says. "We don't view it as good politics or bad politics. That is where everyone is wrong – the idea that we have to pass something, even bad legislation because it helps us at the polls. We want to fix this problem."

[ALSO: On the Border, Fear of More Security Grows]

Former vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who understands first hand the importance of winning more Latino support, agreed that the conference wasn't working on a tight deadline.

"We had a very good conversation and there is an emerging consensus that our immigration system is broken and there is a consensus that we need to fix it," Ryan says. "We don't want to rush anything. We want to get it right."

3. Border security first is one thing the caucus members agree on: The prospect that border security must be done first remains the one uniting principle within the caucus.

"There was broad consensus that the border has to be secure before anything else," says Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif.

No one explicitly defined what enforcement would look like, but lawmakers cited the need to bulk up the number of border patrol agents in the Southwest and the need to install more high-tech sensors in remote areas. Members also want to see more internal enforcement, such as electronic employer-verification programs to stop illegal immigrants from being able to get jobs.