Republican leaves House bipartisan immigration effort
June 6th, 2013
10:15 AM ET
8 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.

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"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. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote on page 5:

    "You do realize that the bill creates a difficult path to citizenship, one that takes at least a dozen years to complete. They could become a citizen faster by returning home and going through the usual immigration channels."

    Yeah... but there's no way that 12 million would all be allowed in at once. Face the facts – this is amnesty with a 12-year fuse attached to it.
    Question. How many people legally imigrate to the US every year? I have really haven't looked it up.

    You cannot exactly deport 12 million people, either. The cost would be staggering.
    You cannot build a 2000 mile security fence, either. The cost woud be staggering.

    Question: How long would it take to implement either one of the above conservative solutions? Any idea.

    June 6, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. Ed

    It is the a very sad day in any nation when the argument is that you must give those that enter this nation illegally a "path to citizenship" to be able to win future elections. The real argument should be why would any nation ever give citizenship to anyone that got into the nation illegally in the 1st place. Being illegal in any nation should never be rewarded with "a path to citizenship" under any excuse.

    June 6, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  3. Phil in the Blanks

    While your explanation sounds great on paper, a country cannot continue to support illegals – permanently. A rotating work program of immigrants could work, without a a path for citizenship. There is no reason why someone needs to become an American – ever, if they are not already one. If America would focus on its current LEGAL child bearing age citizens in conjuction with an assertion of FIDELITY, individual PURITY, discipline and responsibility, families, faith and solidarity of flag, language and Christianity – then the problem with adjust it self accordingly. In other words, promote the growth of the AMERICAN families the right and proper way. People (Politicians) decision to fix a people (AMERICANS) problem with people (IMMIGRANTS) has become a dangerous wild card to play versus a sensible, practical permanent solution. Fix American problems WITH AMERICANS – not immigrants. Being anti-immigrant does not make one prejudiced or racist, but instead SMARTER than a 5th grader or a hidden-agendaed politician!

    June 6, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  4. Get over it

    They need to retrieve Labrador before this goes to the dogs.

    June 6, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. just sayin

    we also need laws to stop this anchor baby problem as well. people are running operations to bring pregnant foreigners here so they can plop a baby out and call him an american. this madness must stop as well.

    June 6, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  6. Thomas A. Hawk

    Peoples State of Illinois, your position no longer matters because the 2012 election is part of history (not something coming up). Obama is President. Most likely, he's going to be President until January of 2017.

    Complaining isn't going to solve issues that you perceive as problems. (I'm not saying they aren't problems. I'm saying that people will disagree over what is and isn't a problem but it is unreasonable to disagree about what you believe - you believe what you believe and there's no debate possible.)

    The fact is that Obama is president and the GOP doesn't control 2/3rds of both houses. To get bills passed, the GOP has to work with the Democrats. It doesn't matter if you or anyone else dislikes the Democrats. They are where they are. Nothing can legally be done before November 2014 and it's unlikely that the Republicans will gain a pair of super majorities. (Borders on the impossible).

    So, the GOP will have to work with the Democrats and vice versa if we are going to solve problems.

    June 6, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. RINO Bil

    To anyone who believed that Republicans were actually going to work with Democrats on this bill: I have a bridge across Lake Michigan for sale, cheap!

    It was always going to be a stall tactic on their side.

    BTW: The bridge is only available for pick-up on Thursdays.

    June 6, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC


    There shouldn't be an issue. An undocumented worker is an illegal worker and should be deported.
    Liberals agree. But how do you do that, though? Conservatives block bills that make it unlawful to hire undocumented workers.

    Conservative solutions are just words that them feel better about themselves. The solutions have no rationale thought behind them. The solutions are so riddled with hypocrisy that my brain hurts. For example, conservatives want to cut spending. They complain about providing health care to undocumented workers in ERs. But, they want everyone rounded up and deported, but fail to realize that doing so would require that you house and feed millions of people as they go through the uncertain deportation process.

    What country do you sent them to? In many cases, the people are coming from rural areas where little or no birth records are kept.

    June 6, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  9. Tony D

    Each time I look at the back of our money I see....."IN GOD WE TRUST".....Democrats, Republicans & Independents here is the answer:
    ................THE HOLY BIBLE
    2nd TIMOTHY 2:15.....Study to shew thyself approved unto GOD, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (KJV)

    Yeah well the sign at my business says.... In God we Trust, All Others Pay CASH!

    When God starts raining money down upon us to pay for all the poor people on the planet, we will gladly consider paying for everything you suggest.

    June 6, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  10. history bear

    They can't agree on how to provide health care for US Citizens and this group wants to provide it for undocumented aliens. BS !.

    June 6, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  11. just sayin

    Rudy NYC
    You cannot exactly deport 12 million people, either. The cost would be staggering.
    You cannot build a 2000 mile security fence, either. The cost woud be staggering.

    total lies. i've already documented the many ways they could be paid for and the costs are not staggering. the democrats and liberals simply refuse to try because all of these illegals benefit their party. they place party before country. very unamerican.

    June 6, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  12. Thomas A. Hawk

    Phil in the Blanks, actually, as long as the number stays low, the U.S. can. It's part of the design conceived by Reagan and negotiated by Bush (Sr). It is, IMHO, rather brilliant. I have to give President Bush a lot of credit for making it work. The Mexican government must not have seen it coming. The net effect is that the U.S. is better off having outsmarted the Mexican government (and having the aliens here) than we would have been without the brilliant work by President Bush. (It's so brillant that, based on your post, which is pretty good, that you don't see Presdient Bush's economic "home run" in the area of agribusiness and the balance of trade in agribusiness. Don't feel bad. It's really clever and few have figured it out yet. But if you read, you can learn too.)

    For references, please see my earlier post about NAFTA, etc.

    June 6, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  13. just sayin

    Rudy NYC
    What country do you sent them to? In many cases, the people are coming from rural areas where little or no birth records are kept.

    not our problem. send them to canada. they love illegals i'm told. and i'm sure all these illegals will enjoy the northwest territories and all the snow and cold it has to offer.

    June 6, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  14. Streptococo

    anybody opposed to health care for the poor should get paid the minimal wage and denied health insurance

    June 6, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  15. ron

    So, given the statement that health care is first and foremost an individual responsability, I guess that means Raul is paying for his own health care rather than belling up to the public payed for trough all his friends are using to cover themselves? Some how I doubt that. This guy has the same problem most of the other republicans have,"democracy be damned if it isn't my way I'll take my toys (votes) and go home." The only problem is they are making so much money prostituting their votes they will never actually leave. And to Phil in the Blanks, you might want to leave the church and morals out of it, going to church one day a week doesn't make you god fearing, especially when you are busy screwing everyone you can out of anything you can to help line you and your friends pockets.

    June 6, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  16. Thomas A. Hawk

    just sayin said "... the democrats and liberals simply refuse..."

    The system was setup by Reagan, Bush(Sr) and Clinton. That doesn't sound like a set of 3 Democrats/Liberals to me. Frankly, President Bush was brilliant - so brilliant that you don't understand what he did.

    We are actually better off than we would have been had it not been for Reagan's and Bush's efforts. It was such a brilliant plan that even Clinton had to agree.

    Don't blame the Democrats for brilliant negotiations by President Bush, Sr. OK?

    June 6, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  17. Bob

    Democratic Party Policy = ethnic cleansing to win elections and gain one party power.

    Just look at California. Refuse to enforce immigration laws and saddle a state with generational poverty..... and that is exactly what it is.

    June 6, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  18. TIred of all this

    "What country do you sent them to? In many cases, the people are coming from rural areas where little or no birth records are kept."

    To answer this question: shouldn't be hard to figure it out. Where did they enter the USA? Canada border, Mexican border or by sea?
    Think we can rule out the first and the last. So ship them over to Mexico as the last country they came from and be done with it.

    The idea that ILLEGAL ALIENS who entered ILLEGALLY

    June 6, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  19. skarphace

    What would cost more in terms of health care? Having regular checkups or waiting until there is an emergency and using the emergency ward?

    The answer should be obvious, but the Republicans feel this would amount to "amnesty", so they won't hear it.

    June 6, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  20. Ellen Smith

    NO! Undocumented workers should leave the country. They cost us too much money. Send them home.
    Illegal is illegal. They should not have sneaked in. I do not support any effort to absolve or support them or their
    children. They are law breakers. Technically, you are all illegal. No one invited Europe to invade North America...
    The Federal government is disgusting.

    June 6, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  21. TR

    It seems to be that we wouldn't even need a security fence if they just started going after the people that employ illegals. If a few examples were made, ie. prison, seized businesses, illegal immigration would end. Politicians in both parties have too much stake (and campaign money) to do that though.

    June 6, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  22. LesC

    To begin, I consider myself a Progressive and I am FOR giving those illegals a pathway to US citizenship but I have major concerns about the impact it will have on our economy. I recently heard a report that the illegal's average education is a 10th grade high school education. If this is true, they will displace native born Americans in the work place because the immigrant will work cheaper. That means that some of my relative will have a harder time finding a job with a living wage. As if it isn't bad enough already! They will also be a negative draw on the national treasury because they will take more from it through our welfare safety net than they will every be able to pay into it in taxes. I heard $9.3 trillion over 10 years. Legalizing the illegals will also create downward pressure on already stagnant wages. This would be great for the business owner but will add more competition for lower paying jobs. These are serious implications that people must be aware of when they support immigration reform.

    June 6, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    just sayin wrote:

    otal lies. i've already documented the many ways they could be paid for and the costs are not staggering. the democrats and liberals simply refuse to try because all of these illegals benefit their party. they place party before country. very unamerican.
    If you did I missed it. My bad. We spend $40 billion per year now to enforce the few strips of border fence that exist now. How much would it cost to patrol and enforce something 2000 miles long?

    You would have to build a simple fence and throw massive manpower at it, which is cost prohibitive. Or you could build a high tech fence with electronic monitoring. Some estimates put a high tech security at costing $100 million per mile. Now multiply that by 2000 miles and you get a minimum cost of $200 billion.

    Now, how long would it take to construct this fence? What happens to the 12 million people already here while your fence is being built? Are we supposed to construct a million inmate Guantanomo for illegals? How much would it cost to house and feed them as they go through the deportation process?

    Wouldn't it be cheaper go another route?

    June 6, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  24. Ray E. (Georgia)

    This Bill will die a slow painful death as those that were tried before them. Those illegal's that want to be Citizens had best go back to their country of origin and get in line. That is the only path there is. Those illegal's that have someone else's SS Number, is paying into the system and will never get anything back. It is ultmantly their loss.

    June 6, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  25. truth

    Let's be real.The undocumented aliens are the European Americans who stole this land from the natives, and until we do right by the Natives no good will come of America.

    June 6, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
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