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House Democrats say they may break the immigration issue up into a series of smaller bills that would put off the tougher parts and allow others to pass, such as border security, and high-tech and agriculture worker programs that have clear support.

That could buy Democrats more time to work out the tougher aspects of immigration, such as what to do about the estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens now here, but it would go against the Senate’s massive catchall approach and contradicts President Bush’s call for a broad bill to pass.

Clear divisions exist on the House side, where several freshman Democrats, such as Rep. Nancy Boyda of Kansas, a member of the Immigration Reform Caucus, oppose the current Senate plan.

“Congress needs to prove to the American people that it can control the borders, and that comes with addressing border security first and only until that trust can be restored,