The Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute on Tuesday continued their debate over comprehensive immigration reform, this time before a closed-door meeting of the Republican Study Committee.

The caucus of conservative House Republicans hosted Heritage researcher Robert Rector, the lead author of a study that contends the Senate's "Gang of Eight" immigration bill would cost U.S. taxpayers trillions, and Cato immigration policy analyst Alex Nowrasteh. The libertarian Cato Institute believes immigration reform would be a net plus for the U.S. economy.

As I reported earlier this year for Roll Call, Nowrasteh and the Cato Institute have been highly critical of Rector's study, lamenting that Heritage, long the gold standard of conservative think tanks, has lost its way because of its blind opposition to comprehensive immigration reform. Rector and Nowrasteh are set to debate again on Thursday before the House Republican Policy Committee, also in a private session.

david drucker Senior Congressional Correspondent