Labrador Says New Congress Will Pass Immigration Bill, Progress Up To Obama

Dec 23, 2014

Rep. Raul Labrador stopped by the KBSX studio in December 2014.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Rep. Raul Labrador, R-ID, is optimistic the changing makeup of the U.S. Congress will lead to the passage of an immigration reform bill in 2015. But the lawmaker isn't as optimistic about that legislation actually becoming law.

"I think we're gonna have legislation that passes the House and the Senate that the American people will like," Labrador says. "The question is whether this President will be willing to actually sign that legislation."

After November's elections, both chambers of Congress will be solidly in GOP control. Before, the Republican-controlled House failed to vote on an immigration bill passed by the Democratically-controlled Senate.

Labrador blames President Obama for derailing House negotiations on the issue. Labrador says at the heart of the disagreement is what he views as Obama's overemphasis on amnesty. Labrador says the emphasis needs to instead be on border security.

And Labrador says he's not interested in passing a stop-gap bill that doesn't really fix the issue.

"Not when it makes it worse," he says. "Not when what you're doing is encouraging more people to come to the United States illegally."

Soon after the president signed the controversial order, Labrador accused Obama of taking an illegal action. A report later showed the percentage of illegal immigrants who would benefit from the order is higher in Idaho than any other state. Labrador says that doesn't change his opinion.

"It doesn't matter if every single person in Idaho was here illegally, it's wrong for the president to put the people that are here illegally ahead of the security and the safety of the American people. All the president's actions are going to do, they're going to encourage more people to more people to come to the United States illegally."

Labrador will head back to Washington after the new year to start his third term as a U.S. Congressman. He easily won re-election in November. Republicans swept all three seats in Congress that were open in 2014, as well as all statewide races. The election was the first for Idaho GOP Chairman Steve Yates. He was picked in August - two month after a chaotic state convention that Labrador helped run.

Labrador says the Republican Party is in better shape now than it was during the summer infighting. He says some issues at the root of the bickering have been swept under the rug. But he also credits Yates for taking steps to bridge the gap between what Labrador sees as the conservative and establishment wings of the party.

"I think I'm very optimistic about the new chairman of the party," Labrador says. "I think he was supported by both wings of the party. And I think that was good.

Labrador reiterated that he doesn't think the fight for control of the party was necessarily a bad thing.

"One of the reasons you don't see Democratic party fighting very much in Idaho is because their ideas are dead and their policies don't stand much of a chance to pass in the legislature," he says. "I'm very optimistic about the future of the Republican party and I think it's healthy for the party to be debating these ideas."

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