Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) told Univision this week that immigration reform is growing increasingly less likely to pass this year -- or next -- as Congress turns its focus to Syria, the debt ceiling and other issues.
"I think that if we don’t do it now, in 2013, it’s not going to be -- it’s not going to happen in 2014," he told "Al Punto" host Jorge Ramos, according to a transcript of an interview that will air on Sunday. "And that means that we’re going to have to wait until 2015. So now, that time is -- it’s becoming a lot shorter. We don't know exactly when we’re going to be able to have this debate."
"A lot of us thought that the debate was going to be in October, but now, with the problems that we’re having internationally and also here in this country, I don’t see how we’re going to be able to have this debate until -- until November," he continued. "And I really don’t know if it will be possible to do it in November."
Labrador was considered by many to be a potential leader on immigration reform, and even though he is not in leadership, advocates were hopeful he would push to bring Republicans on board. He said he is still working on a bill that would address legal immigration.
But Labrador dropped out of a bipartisan group working on legislation and does not support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, a criterion Democrats say is absolutely necessary to win their votes. He would support undocumented immigrants gaining legal status, but not a new way for them to move beyond it, he said -- a policy that would prevent many from becoming citizens because of narrow application windows under current law.
The congressman said that if the House voted on legalization for undocumented immigrants within the next month, he doesn't think there would be enough support for the reform to pass.
"Immigration reform is something about which we have to have a good debate," he said. "We have to convince people that it’s a good thing. ... So I think it’s a debate that we have to have, and at this time I don’t think the votes are there in the House of Representatives."