Key Republican in immigration debate says undocumented immigrants 'not clamoring' for citizenship
February 5th, 2013
07:07 PM ET
10 years ago

Key Republican in immigration debate says undocumented immigrants 'not clamoring' for citizenship

Washington (CNN) – Rep. Raul Labrador, a member of a bipartisan group of House members discussing immigration reform proposals, told reporters on Tuesday that he doesn't believe many of the nation’s 11.5 million undocumented immigrants want to become American citizens.

"They're not clamoring for it. It's only the activists here in Washington D.C. who keep clamoring for it," Labrador said off the House floor.

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"Anybody who is clamoring for citizenship - they're looking for voters and they're looking for union members. They're not looking for a political solution, they're not looking for a policy that actually strengthens the United States," Labrador said in taking a swipe at some of his GOP colleagues and others pressing proposals that create a path to citizenship.

The Idaho Republican said undocumented immigrants want legal status.

“They want to be treated with respect they want to be able to come out of the shadows and they want a program where they feel that when they are crossing the border they're not going to be detained at the border," he said.

Labrador based his assessment on his experience as an attorney in private practice before he ran for Congress.

"I've practiced immigration law for 15 years and I've dealt with thousands and thousands of people and not one of them said ‘I need a pathway to citizenship,’" Labrador said.

But the conservative lawmaker said he does support citizenship for children of those who entered the United States illegally, similar to the DREAM Act that failed to pass Congress.

"I want to treat those kids fairly who came here through no fault of their own,” he said, noting that many are in college or in the military and are doing the right things.

Asked about how the bipartisan group is grappling with the citizenship issue, Labrador declined to comment.

"I cannot talk about whether I am even part of the bipartisan group," he said.

But other sources familiar with the group confirm that Labrador has been involved in regular immigration talks with other House members.

They include: Florida Republican Mario Diaz-Balart, Texas Republicans Sam Johnson and John Carter; and Democratic Reps Rep Luis Gutierrez, Xavier Becerra, Zoe Lofgren, and John Yarmuth.

Like Labrador, other members of the group declined to talk about its internal discussions or even its existence, worried that any leaked details could jeopardize any deal.

When approached by reporters, Diaz-Balart has an answer ready for those probing for any details from the talks. "I can neither confirm nor deny that there is any group."

But Diaz-Balart does say that the political environment for a comprehensive deal is better than any other time he’s debated the issue.

Democrats in the group have all insisted for years that any immigration legislation must include a mechanism for those undocumented immigrants now in the United States to gain citizenship.

Diaz-Balart has co-sponsored a number of legislative proposals. It’s unclear whether Labrador’s position would make it impossible for him to sign on to any agreement announced by the group.

Sources familiar with the discussions tell CNN that the bipartisan group is aiming to roll out legislation, perhaps as early as after the State of the Union address next week.

Members of the House group have met weekly and some have been involved in immigration talks for year. Individual members have met with Florida Senator Marco Rubio and other members of the bipartisan Senate group that released its own immigration framework last week that did include a path to citizenship.

While some of those in the bipartisan House group believe one comprehensive bill is the only way to get both parties to pass something this year, Labrador said he believes that there will be a series of separate bills that together represent a comprehensive package.

And he argued it's more likely that the Republican-controlled House will pass legislation that limits those in the country illegally to getting legal status, not full citizenship.

"I don’t know if it's an easier sell - it's just something that comports with most of the promises that Republicans made in their campaigns," Labrador said.

Filed under: House • Immigration
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Carol

    But without the pathway to citizenship they will be another class in the U.S.A. which should not happen (i.e. the second class).

    February 5, 2013 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  2. Name lynn

    Raul an the rest of them gop leaders need to leave them latinos alone. let the live their lifes in the united states you people are.

    February 5, 2013 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  3. qwiksilver

    "Path to Citizenship" will be the same nightmare amnesty program we had before that saw a huge swell in the numbers coming over the borders. Those people didn't get documented then (I was working in immigration law at the time) and they won't get documented now. Instead of 11 million we will get 22 million illegals.

    February 5, 2013 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  4. redpillfactory

    The "activists" that want them given citizenship just so happen to all be jews. The same ones lobbying for immigration to Europe as "revenge" against the Whites for the holohoax.

    February 5, 2013 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  5. Randy, San Francisco

    New and better ideas from the Republican Party? As long as they keep talking like Rep Labrador, Democrats have no worry that Hispanic and other minority voters will flock to the Republican Party.

    February 5, 2013 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  6. scooter

    Seems as if the Good Ol' Protestant party will never learn! And the hate just keeps on coming.

    February 5, 2013 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  7. Thomas

    "I've practiced immigration law for 15 years and I've dealt with thousands and thousands of people and not one of them said ‘I need a pathway to citizenship,’" Labrador said.

    Raul Labrador makes Darrell Issa look like an honest nice kind man !

    February 5, 2013 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  8. penguin

    I'm in favor of a pathway to citizenship, but many of the Mexican Americans my very caucasion son played soccer with wanted to work and save enough to return home. We should welcome this hard working, family friendly group to our country

    February 5, 2013 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  9. belinda

    Greedy as always, the GOP continues to sell out all American Workers, not just Unions. The GOP continues to pander to $pecial interests that want to use Illegal Immigrants as slave labor and profit from their misery, rather than concentrating on the more important issue of giving families amnesty. The tea party should give it up, this twisted strategy will not work. 2014 will be our chance to get rid of these clowns.

    February 5, 2013 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  10. Vence

    GOP is nor clamoring for hispanic votes either.

    February 5, 2013 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  11. Victoria Ledesma

    He's right. They don't want to be citizens because then they would have to pay taxes and get off welfare. They just don't want to be deported and continue to live off the tax payers.

    February 5, 2013 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  12. Pete

    Well its republicans that clamor for undocumented immigrents because its they with Reagan and Bushs who pushed the union busting card wasn't it..And now the immigration deal is on the table with Pres.Obama pushing it nationwide and the racist republicans don't know what to do right...They know if they fold it'll be the last straw to sink them at midterms and they're sinking fast still in the popularity polls aren't they...So republicans ya better get with the program or go the way the dinosaurs,extinct..Better go anyway because your partys never been for the working people of America,only your corporate handlers ,1%ers the ones that fill your pockets!!

    February 5, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  13. Nothing At All

    Another nut case representing the Republican Party,

    February 6, 2013 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  14. J.V.Hodgson

    CNN your headline is too dramatic.
    The guy recognises the difference between being a legal documented working immigrant and then beyond that the decision about whether that person or the people with him or her want ultimately to apply for us citizenship and denounce thier birth citizenship in the process.
    Surprise surprise he's a lawyer!!
    That said however, he has the germ of the most effective solution.
    1) If you were or are an illegal immigrant. You own up and apply for either a Permanent work permit/ identity card with appropriate identity checks rather like drivers license = Photo, plus, sorry, finger print valid current address and other data like original date of entry via a proper site or cross border without check and native country birth certifcate, passport or driving license. Then existing family members in US plus you please turn up for issue of id card and work permit at centers and places to be announced within 7 days of opening.
    After 1/2 months Id and or work permits are issued to those turning. After that background checks are conducted for criminal offenses.
    If you have a passport you must show it. We will check all ID's with Mexican and other nations in particular against all domestic such names for unused passports A lie here = automatic deportation of you and a ban on legal immigration for you and all family members for 20 years.
    Key is No employer/Individual may take someone on to work without ID or work permit card and they must deduct 5% witholding tax from any payment.... as all work must be invoiced by individuals (or payrolled by small businees employers) with an Id holder or Work permit worker by an employer.
    You then have 2 choices
    1) Agree within 24months to apply for citizenship/
    2) Decide you simply want to apply for a work permit renewal which is for whatever seasonal nature period the job is or 12 months maximum. No guarantee of renewal here and if not = deportation for you and all family on id cards only.
    The whole point is No id, No work permit and no job and no citizenship application right and more important no medical cover emergency or otherwise ( you give it up by not being truthful/ honest) food stamps, or any other social welfare benefit in the US.

    February 6, 2013 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  15. Gurgyl

    Do you reward illegals for your political gains??? Did you see in NJ, NY AND CARY, North Carolina how many India guys are breaking the system and our laws. Nab, bust and deport these idiots first then talk. Nonsense.

    February 6, 2013 05:24 am at 5:24 am |
  16. Dave

    This guy is as dumb as Palin.

    February 6, 2013 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  17. Facts don't Lie

    and he knows this to be a fact because............??

    February 6, 2013 07:14 am at 7:14 am |