Republican leaves House bipartisan immigration effort
June 6th, 2013
10:15 AM ET
1 year ago

Republican leaves House bipartisan immigration effort

(CNN) - The bipartisan group in the House working on immigration reform suffered a blow late Wednesday after Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, left the team over policy disagreements.

The group was close to finalizing its legislation but Labrador said the House "Gang of Eight" could not agree on a provision involving health care for undocumented workers, according to a statement his office issued Wednesday night.

"I have tremendous respect for the members of the bipartisan group who have been working with me to fix our broken immigration system," Labrador said in a statement. "But after today's meeting, the framework of the bill has changed in a way that I can no longer support."

Many immigration reform advocates were banking on Labrador as a key player to bring on Republican votes. An outspoken conservative, Labrador repeatedly told reporters he wants Republicans to "find a way to get to yes" on major reform.

Labrador first threatened to leave the group two weeks ago when it faced gridlock over how to cover health care costs. GOP members worried state or local governments would be stuck with the costs and Democrats were concerned an undocumented worker who was seriously injured or diagnosed with cancer and couldn't pay for insurance would be deported.

The group ultimately reached an agreement two weeks ago and Labrador stayed on, though they didn't provide details of the compromise.

But it apparently fell apart Wednesday, as Labrador's office said the group "couldn't satisfactorily resolve the issue" and the congressman would not sign onto the legislation.

"I believe that health care is first and foremost a personal responsibility," he said in the statement.

He vowed to keep fighting for a bill that he believes can pass in the House, and two sources told CNN that Labrador informed colleagues he plans to introduce legislation on his own.

Another member of the House "Gang of Eight" insisted the group would move on without Labrador. Republican Rep. Luis Gutierrez said the remaining seven members are committed to crafting a bill that could win support on both sides of the aisle.

"I am sorry to see him pull out, but I think he will be tremendously helpful in getting immigration reform passed by the House and signed by the President this year when all is said and done," Gutierrez said in a statement.

"I guess they will stop calling us the gang of eight, now," he added. "I am hoping they start calling us the Magnificent Seven."

Nonetheless, the congressman's departure represents a new roadblock for those seeking immigration reform in the GOP-controlled House, as the House Judiciary Committee–which marks up immigration legislation–is already stacked with many conservatives skeptical of a deal with Democrats.

Some members in the Senate's "Gang of Eight" met with Labrador and other House members Wednesday as the upper chamber attempts to pass a bill that could have a future in the House.

Many House conservatives, however, made it clear the Senate bill, which includes a pathway to citizenship, is a total nonstarter with them, and cited the House Speaker John Boehner's position that he doesn't plan to bring it up for a vote.

Many, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, pushed for the House to proceed with a series of immigration bills that focused on border security, and criticized the Senate version for not being tough enough on the subject.

Labrador told reporters after the meeting that overall, House conservatives don't like the Senate proposal, but are in favor of parts of it, though he stressed "I don't think you get anything out of the Senate without strong border security and we definitely don't get anything out of the House without strong border security."

Speaking after the bicameral meeting Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida continued to voice support for immigration reform legislation but distanced himself from the Senate proposal he helped craft.

Rubio wants to add changes that bolster security provisions and while he didn't tell reporters on Capitol Hill that he would vote against it, he did say, "If the changes don't happen, the bill can't pass."

"We'll keep working," he added. "We won't abandon the effort, we'll keep working to ensure that we have a bill that can pass."

Noting that he was asked to join the immigration effort in part to help bring Republicans on board, Rubio declared, "I can tell you that the bill as structured isn't going to pass the House, and it's going to struggle to pass in the Senate."

– CNN's Rachel Streitfeld and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


Filed under: Immigration • House • Raul Labrador
soundoff (227 Responses)
  1. DBSaint

    Forget boarder security and a 12 year path to citizenship. You want to reduce (becuase you can never "end") illegal immigration, go after the big companies that hire illegals (real companies in LA, NY, Miami – not kosher meat packers in Iowa), end the anchor baby provison, don't provide extended health sevices to those here illegally,creat a guest worker program, and reign in the B12 visa program (microsoft uses this to hire cheap labor instead of american IT staff).

    June 6, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  2. Thomas A. Hawk

    TIred of all this, the question would still stand.

    Illegal entry is indeed a crime. However, that doesn't mean all people who entered illegally did so from Mexico. I'll agree that the vast majority of undocumented farm workers illegally crossed the Mexico/U.S. border. I just don't agree that it's all.

    Even if a person illegall crosses the Mexico/U.S. border into Mexico, that doesn't prove that each and every such person is a Mexican national. Mexico only has to accept Mexicans. They don't have to accept, for instance, Guatemalans.

    Speaking of Guatemala, they also don't have to accept non-Guatemalans. Specifcially, that means they don't have to accept children of Guatemalan citizens born on U.S. soil. Those children are not citizens of Guatemala. If they weren't automatically U.S. citizens, then they would be citizens of no nation at all. Now where do you deport them if Guatemala won't accept them as guests?

    You may be tired of all this. So am I. However, we still have to obey the law including international law. If we want other nations to respect the sovereignty of the U.S. then we have to respect their sovereighnty as well.

    June 6, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  3. Paratrooper_us

    Rudy NYC – Both parties try to pass "Feel good laws". The Dems want to pass a feel good law in regards to Gun Control (even when many say it will not help the problem, which by the way deaths via a firearm has been declining on it's own for the past five plus years – but we need more laws).

    But I digress – Please tell me what ideas that the Liberals have that are not going to cost us a fortune, not reward those that broke the law, be sustainable and fix the problem so that we are not going to be here again in 20 years.

    There is no easy solution, and there is no one correct answer. The fact that you do not like someone's suggestion does not mean that they are blocking the path, if that is the case, then the Liberal side is doing the same thing.

    What I see as the issue is that we have a White House that is not able to get both parties to talk to each other. The Democrats believe that since the President is a Democrat and they control the Senate, the Conservatives should just roll over and play dead. The Conservatives have locked their heels down so hard and they are not talking to the Democrats – the problem is on both sides of the street and the White House is not helping.

    June 6, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  4. painedi

    We can't kick the kids out I guess.Otherwise kick them ALL out

    June 6, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  5. Matt

    Wait so on top of giving them what is basically amnesty, the Democrats want us to also have to start footing the bill for these criminal's healthcare?

    June 6, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  6. Thomas A. Hawk

    Ellen Smith said "They cost us too much money."

    Do they? What is the cost to the balance of trade in agribusiness if they aren't here?

    Do you think Presidents Reagan and Bush (Sr) were that economicially stupid when they set all this up by passing NAFTA in an economy where the Federal Government subsized U.S. agriculture? Really?

    Perhaps you disagreed with Reagan and Bush but they were not stupid men. The plan was so good that even Clinton went along with it.

    What I don't get is why Mexico signed NAFTA. What did Bush have on them? I don't know but he made it work.

    We are better off with the mess we have (due to the Agribusiness economic engine) that we'd be without the mess. Granted, if we could somehow keep the low income workers here without losing that advantage, great.

    Got a plan that will actually accomplish that without defeating the Reagan/Bush plan that is actually working? (Not understanding their plan doesn't mean it doesn't work. It just means you haven't learned enough, yet.)

    June 6, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  7. thetwist

    All these politicians care about is kill the bill and present thier own so they can go down in history. We didn't the house 8 try to come up with their bill before the senate gang of 8 tried? Personally I dont think these politicians care about immigration or making the country benefit in any, all they care about is fame and trying to go in the history books . the 11 million undocumented that is here are working without paying taxes and thats one of the things that kill economies. Hurry up get them to start paying taxes so the country can start moving forward.

    June 6, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  8. clem kadiddle

    Why would anyone support the Federal Government and the Department of Justice on the topic of immigration. They have failed. If the Feds (ICE), politicians would have done their job in the first place, we would not be in this trouble. I believe it is time to allow States to assist in illegal immmigration control. I fully support Jan, Joe and Arizona. Ilegals should have humanitarian rights, that being food and water but they should not be allowed to use our own laws and the Constitution to benefit their reasoning and argument to remain in this Country illegally. What the HELL is wrong with the politicians and judges thinking!

    June 6, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  9. Pete

    @just sayin,how you going to stop illegals from walking up on the beaches of Florida,Alabama,Mississippi,Louisiana,California besides Texas,ever thought about that..Much more come in every day from Florida alone than Texas ever had and if you don't think so check Floridas demographics the last twenty years from being majority white American born,raised to now being a minority to immigrents that aren't born or raised here,see the difference..You can't plug a leaking dam with only your fingers bud and its not a liberal,republican thing either..That's why this issue has been radioactive for so long because its the land of opportunity and people in many poor countries want that opportunity and you can't knock them for that because your relatives probibly came over that way as well so quit like most here being hateful and be proud that everyone wants to live here like you,I like it or not!!

    June 6, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  10. Norm

    So someone who breaks the law and enters illegally should get free cancere treatment while law abiding American not only get to pay for it, they get turned away because covering illegals has driven up insurance and healthcare costs to the point that they can't afford it.

    June 6, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  11. bear

    I know 2 Chinese who came here as students and stayed on to work in the defense industry. They brought one of their father's over. He was a general in the China army. He now is living here legally and the US government gives him $900 a month to live on. He never worked here and never contributed to Social Security. There is something wrong with a system that lets people immigrate into the country and then immediately starts paying them money.

    June 6, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  12. jake

    Legalize all the future Democratic voters and make American tax payers subsidize their health care. Illegals won't pay a dime for health care. They're too poor. It's going to be up to the 47% of tax paying Americans to pay for their health care and Democrats know the more poor they import into the US, the more tax takers will keep voting them into office.

    June 6, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  13. Thomas A. Hawk

    DBSaint said "...end the anchor baby provison..."

    How? That can't be defeated by statute. You'd need a constitutional amendment that would not only repeal that aspect fo the 14th Amendment but set aside the Common Law concept of Jus Soli going back to Calvin’s Case, 77 Eng. Rep. 377 (1608) which is based on feudal law.

    In any event, simple statute won't change supreme law. You'll need an amendment. Do you actually think such an amendment has a "snowball's" chance of ratification?

    June 6, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  14. Thomas A. Hawk

    bear, what are those former students doing working in the defense industry? In that they got permission to work in that area without being born in the U.S. tells me there's a lot more to the story that you haven't included.

    As Paul Harvey would have asked - what's the rest of the story?

    It appears, unless you provide more information, in that these two are allowed to work in such a sensitive area after not being born in the U.S., indicates that their work is extremely valuable to the U.S. Far more valuable than $900 / month extra.

    Of course, that conclusion may be wrong. You can demonstrate that it's wrong simply by disclosing the information.

    June 6, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  15. WASP

    one easy way to fix things as far as the "anchor baby" thing, is let a child's citizenship reside with the nationality of the parents. all that means is when the child is born on U.S. soil instead of registering as an american you simply contact the embassy of whatever nation they are from and inform them of the child birth.
    america still issues a birth certificate, they still get their vaccines, you can even issue an ITCN for the IRS and a residency card for the child, until they reach the age of 18 where they can apply for citizenship or reapply for residency themselves.
    this would free up immigration to remove the whole family if there becomes an issue over the family's status, thus insuring the family isn't torn apart.
    residency can be revoked, citizenship is permenant..................under most situations.

    June 6, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  16. Thomas A. Hawk

    Jake said "Legalize all the future Democratic voters..."

    Are you trying to say that all of them are future Democrats? Why do think that?

    What is going to happen is that if the GOP doesn't figure something out pretty soon, that the GOP will alienate enough non-Cuban Hispanics that the GOP will lose control of Texas by 2020. Note: the people who are going to shift Texas to Democrat in 2020 have already been born and, for the most part, are already citizens. Amnesty or no amnesty has no effect the voting rights of current U.S. citizens who are 10-14 right now.

    In short, if the GOP doesn't make a change that works, a Democrat (by the GOP's own analysis) will be elected to the White House in 2020. The question to you is if you are going to work with the GOP or get in the way of the GOP. Right now, you appear to be in their way. So, what are you going to do?

    Not what do you want? That's pretty clear. But given the choices actually available, what are you going to do?

    June 6, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  17. thetwist

    @ norm what your said makes no sense, the last time I checked illegals cannot get any gov benefits. The only benefits they have humanitarian based. And most countries have that.

    June 6, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  18. clem kadiddle

    Make employers do E Verify. If they don't comply and have illegals working for them, impose a fine and make them pay for deportation expenses. Illegals should not be entittled to get any tax payer benefits food stamps, housing, low interest rate loans, medical treatment, except in life or death emergency, education etc. the cost to the tax payer for these illegals is stagering. It cost my State (NM) 90 million a year. The majority of Americans supports Jan Brewer and Arizona.

    June 6, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  19. smith

    to fix a sinking ship you have to first plug the hole...we need a fence or wall...our southren border is insane.

    June 6, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  20. DAZZY

    He left over health care coverage for undocumented workers.

    Which means at least 1 person on the committee was for it. Why are they even discussing it? If a worker is here illegally (yes illegally, being that it's against the law, that's the definition), or can't be troubled to go through channels to get documented, let their own damn government take care of them.

    We need to stop trying to cure all the plants ails.

    June 6, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  21. romany

    well as legal migrants can't get health care for 5 years after arriving without paying for it then good for him for standing against those who seem to want to hand everything on a golden platter to these people that have committed a crime by illegally entering the country, if they want health care, pay for it, if they can't pay for it then they don't get it just like everyone else

    June 6, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  22. thetwist

    @WASP really? If that was the case the usa probably wouldn't be the country that it is right now, and its because of anchor baby law why most of us are hear now no matter what race u are. Stop in being selfish and accept change.

    June 6, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  23. Thomas A. Hawk

    WASP said 'one easy way to fix things as far as the "anchor baby" thing...'

    Why do you think that's an easy solution?

    Nothing short of a Constitional Amendment is going to overturn both Calvin's Case (from 1608 in Britain) and the 14th Amendment. U.S. law is based on Common Law. Unless specifically changed by the Constitution, Common Law still applies.

    In any event, you will need 3/4's of the states to ratify said amendment. That is not even close to easy.

    Then you create a new problem - that of a stateless person. The National Foundation for American Policy estimates this problem will cost about $600 for each baby born in the U.S not including legal fees. That's $24 billion per year. (The cost would have to be applied to children of U.S. citizens of children born in the U.S. for this to work).

    I find it nearly impossible to believe that 3/4's of the states are willing to increase the cost of government in the U.S. by $24 billion / year even if there's a strong desire to solve the alien problem.

    In short, the solution is far from simple.

    June 6, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    "total lies. i've already documented the many ways they could be paid for and the costs are not staggering"

    No you haven't. You threw out totally absurd vagaries like "defend Planned Parenthood" and getting rid of the Dept. of Education and other such ridiculous Teatroll circle-jerk fantasies. You don't even have an answer for what would actually need to be done and what kind of police state we'd have to create to accomplish your little daydream of "send them all home." The only explanation for that kind of irrational claptrap is either bigotry or brain damage, perhaps a combination of both.

    June 6, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  25. Joe Rockbottom

    The Repubs just don't get it. The BEST thing we could do is make it much EASIER to absorb the illegal immigrants already here and EASIER for more to come in. MORE IMMIGRANTS STIMULATES THE ECONOMY. PROVEN FACT.

    Why on earth do we want to push down and discourage the most risk-taking, hardest working people that our country has?!?!?! Compare ANY immigrant to the average unimaginative slackers that come out of high schools these days and you will see right away that our "native born" kids aren't going to do much for us. They want everything on a silver platter and have no idea how to work for anything. They won't even work hard enough in high school to get to college. And without college they are going to be doing only the most menial, unskilled jobs available.

    Let the immigrants stay, make it easy for them to get citizenship, make it easy for more to come America will be better for it. MUCH BETTER.

    June 6, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
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