Republican leaves House bipartisan immigration effort
June 6th, 2013
10:15 AM ET
2 years 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: House • Immigration • Raul Labrador
soundoff (227 Responses)
  1. Peoples State of Illinois

    1) Huge fines for companies/people that hire illegals.
    2) Don't need a fence. Manned guard towers every 1/2 mile with "shoot-to-kill" orders
    ....a) Using the troops from Iraq/Afghanistan, keeps them gainfully employed earning their paycheck

    Those two things will solve the illegal immigration problem. Number 2 will not have to exercise their orders very often due to Number 1.

    June 6, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  2. Thomas A. Hawk

    Smith, the important leadership in both parties already agree with you about border security. Why do you think it's an issue?

    Sen McCain got Sen Schumer to agree simply by flying him to Arizona to see the problem. You may not like Sen Schumer but he's not a stupid man and he does agree with your position on security.

    So, what's your point?

    June 6, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  3. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    We built bridges on the atlantic to liberate Normandy, we sent man to the moon but we can't create a propper border security program? And all that trillions of dollars wasted on Iraq and Afghanistan could have been used not only on infrastructure and on the American people but also towards securing our borders. Lets secure the borders but at the same time, let's not postpone this immigration bill. It needs to be passed.

    June 6, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  4. GI Joe

    Looks like the rising anchor baby star has fizzled out. Rats deserting his sinking ship.

    June 6, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  5. taxedmore

    The democrats want us to pay for health care for 11,000,000 illegals on top of the 60,000,000 already getting a free Medicaid ride and another 30,000,000 about to get a free ride on Obamacare. I really want to puke when I hear a democrats talk about being concerned for the middle class taxpayer.

    June 6, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  6. Joe Rockbottom

    Peoples state of Illinois wrote: " Manned guard towers every 1/2 mile with "shoot-to-kill" orders"

    Well, we certainly have millions of psychopathic gun fanatics that will sign up for that job – and do it for free just so they finally get to use their precious AR15's for something other than stroking....

    June 6, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  7. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    For all you conservatives who keep arguing that we should not give amnesty to people who came to this country illegally and so on, not to be disrespectful to red states but the fact is that red states benefited from four hundred years of free slave labor of 12 million illegal undocumented African slaves. So let's get the immigration bill pass, secure our borders and move on. Let's face it, most of us here are illegals anyway except the Native Americans. let's pass the bill, secure the border, learn to get along with one another and move on as a nation.

    June 6, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. The fact of the matter

    "... health care for undocumented workers," This is a sticking point? They get none. Period. Now, move on.

    June 6, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  9. The Real Tom Paine

    -Peoples State of Illinois

    1) Huge fines for companies/people that hire illegals.
    2) Don't need a fence. Manned guard towers every 1/2 mile with "shoot-to-kill" orders
    ....a) Using the troops from Iraq/Afghanistan, keeps them gainfully employed earning their paycheck

    Those two things will solve the illegal immigration problem. Number 2 will not have to exercise their orders very often due to Number 1.
    *******************
    Number 1 is a great idea: why bother with the number 2, since the cost would be astronomical to build and maintain a defense that can always be breached? Why build an immigration version of the Maginot Line that would be useless and over budget before it was completed? Cut off the demand for the labor, and you solve the problem without a body count.

    June 6, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  10. Joe Rockbottom

    People like to dis the obama folks on solyndra deal that cost 400 million. But how many remember the Boeing deal by the Bushies, for electronic guard towers on the border, that lost 5 BILLION dollars and produced absolutely nothing!

    Stopping people is hard They want to be here. They actualy help our economy.Why on earth do you want to keep out people who will take extreme risks to get here, work harder than anyone else, and pay taxes they won't benefit from?

    No high school kid here would even cross the street for some of the jobs these people do. And most of the high school kids won't even study hard enough to get the high paying jobs that immigrants are studying like crazy for and will do instead of our own lazy people. Who is getting the handout here? The lazy "native born" people, that's who!!

    June 6, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  11. Thomas A. Hawk

    Peoples State of Illinois said "2) Don't need a fence. Manned guard towers every 1/2 mile with "shoot-to-kill" orders" and wants to use soldiers.

    That's a war crime - using military to target civilians in that fashion. That would make each soldier as well as the President, Secretary of Defense, Chairman of Joint Chiefs, etc., liable for trial and execution.

    I know you are frustrated. Me too. But why do you think the solution is to issue illegal orders to the U.S. military?

    (The U.S. was a party to having people in Germany and Japan executed for that crime. The U.S. is a nation that wanted such actions to be illegal. We asked for it.)

    June 6, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  12. One L

    How is walking away from the discussion/negotiation going to solve anything???

    June 6, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  13. PHinMiami

    While I 100% agree that undocumented workers should not get free healthcare, unfortunately, it's all too common. Anyone in the world has access to our healthcare, all they need to do is buy a plane ticket. Too often, Abuelita has a gallbladder attack while 'visiting'. Everyone 'visiting' family should have a sponsor that will assume responsibility for healthcare costs or purchase temporary insurance (possibly through Affordable Care Act? That would be a helpful addition).

    June 6, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  14. Peoples State of Illinois

    @Thomas A. Hawk

    Peoples State of Illinois said "2) Don't need a fence. Manned guard towers every 1/2 mile with "shoot-to-kill" orders" and wants to use soldiers.

    That's a war crime – using military to target civilians in that fashion. That would make each soldier as well as the President, Secretary of Defense, Chairman of Joint Chiefs, etc., liable for trial and execution.

    I know you are frustrated. Me too. But why do you think the solution is to issue illegal orders to the U.S. military?

    (The U.S. was a party to having people in Germany and Japan executed for that crime. The U.S. is a nation that wanted such actions to be illegal. We asked for it.)
    -------------
    You are wrong, it would not be illegal. They are not citizens of this country. They are invaders to our country.

    June 6, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  15. Hillcrester

    There will be no House-passed bill acceptable to the Senate or the President. The GOP is on its way to losing AZ and (in spite of devious redistricting) TX in 2016.

    Demography is destiny!

    June 6, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  16. Linda

    taxedmore
    The democrats want us to pay for health care for 11,000,000 illegals on top of the 60,000,000 already getting a free Medicaid ride and another 30,000,000 about to get a free ride on Obamacare. I really want to puke when I hear a democrats talk about being concerned for the middle class taxpayer.

    I couldn't agree more!!!!!!! Why do we let this continue???? Somebody shut this travesty down!!!!!!

    June 6, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  17. Linda

    Joe Rockbottom
    Peoples state of Illinois wrote: " Manned guard towers every 1/2 mile with "shoot-to-kill" orders"

    Well, we certainly have millions of psychopathic gun fanatics that will sign up for that job – and do it for free just so they finally get to use their precious AR15's for something other than stroking....

    ( At least they'll be put to good use!!

    June 6, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |

    June 6, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  18. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Why shouldn't undocumented workers get free healthcare? When there's a natural desaster worldwide, we give away billions of dollars in aid. We also give away billions of dollars to many countries annually and get nothing in return. The undocumented workers here are actually building stuff like infrastructure, houses, growing crops, working sanitation and contributing to our society and economy in many different ways. Stop the bickering and pass the bill, secure the border and deport any and all newcomers who cross the borders. Let's move forward.

    June 6, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    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
    ---------------–
    You do realize that conservative politicians are quite adept at saying one thing, but doing the exact opposite?

    Republicans have opposed E-Verify on the grounds that: it would be a burden on small businesses; the government should make sure illegals are not in this country; it would be unfair to punish small business owners if they mistakenly hire someone who they shouldn't; and many other altruistic sounding arguments.

    Why? Because the right wing supports capitalists to a fault. Capitalists love the cheap labor, and no desire to let it get away from them. Review your history. It was Republicans who pushed policies and signed laws that encouraged illegal immigration to the US beginning with Ronald Reagan's amnesty, through to George W. Bush telling employers that they can toss the I-9 in the garbage after three years. This last act by GWB really opened the flood gates.

    June 6, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  20. shuffler

    Like anyone else the a criminal/illegal alien should have to pay for his own medical or his own insurance. All should be required to return to their country for one year before being eligible for legal entry into the US.

    Those without a job should not be eligible. Their spawn should not be called American citizens unless they are here legally.

    Quit milking the working American for worthless criminals.... yes every illegal is a criminal. They broke the law coming over here.

    June 6, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  21. paBlow

    Kick criminal incarceration and fines for employers.

    June 6, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  22. Peoples State of Illinois

    @Joe Rockbottom

    Peoples state of Illinois wrote: " Manned guard towers every 1/2 mile with "shoot-to-kill" orders"

    Well, we certainly have millions of psychopathic gun fanatics that will sign up for that job – and do it for free just so they finally get to use their precious AR15's for something other than stroking....
    -----–
    The problem with your statement is AR15's are not that accurate at 1/2 mile. It would take a very expert shot to hit a target that far away.

    June 6, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  23. Ray303

    What's the use of a fence and/or border patrols if once you get past it you're home free? Put the employers of illegals in jail and fine them to pay for it. Word would get around quickly and "help wanted" signs for American workers would suddenly pop up everywhere. Start paying a living wage and the jobs will fill up. Americans are still the best workers despite the same old tired B.S. we keep hearing. They just won't work as cheap as millions of third world refugees.

    June 6, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  24. Thomas A. Hawk

    Peoples State of Illinois said "You are wrong, it would not be illegal. They are not citizens of this country. They are invaders to our country."

    It's not a military invasion. The criminals (crossing the border) aren't breaking international law. They are breaking U.S.domestic law. This makes them liable for arrest, trial, conviction and incarceration (followed by deportation). It is not legal for a soldier to respond to a violation of domestic criminal law as if the criminals are an invading military regardless of how frustrated both of us are about the problem.

    Put another way, you can take whatever position you want but it won't be legal. I could even agree with you and it still won't be legal.

    June 6, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  25. Don't Believe Polls

    Rather than voicing your opinion here, pick up the phone and call your senators and representatives now and let them know your opinion about the Illegal Amnesty bill (S.744)

    June 6, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
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