WASHINGTON -- The bad blood between House Republicans and President Barack Obama has only worsened since the fight over funding the government and paying its debts, and Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) said Wednesday that it had doomed any chances for immigration reform.
After Labrador said during an event with conservative members that they could no longer trust the president on immigration, HuffPost asked him a simple question: Is it dead?
"I think it is," he replied. "For us to go to a negotiation, to the negotiating table with President Obama after what he has done over the last two and a half weeks, I think would be probably a very big mistake."
Obama told Univision affiliate 34 KMEX on Tuesday that he would turn back to immigration reform immediately after the fiscal issues are dealt with, even as House Republicans look increasingly unwilling to pass immigration reform themselves.
"Once that’s done, you know, the day after I’m going to be pushing to say, call a vote on immigration reform," Obama said. "And if I have to join with other advocates and continue to speak out on that, and keep pushing, I’m going to do so because I think it’s really important for the country. And now is the time to do it."
Labrador was once considered a potential broker of immigration reform, bridging the gap between conservative members and Democrats in the same way Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) did in the Senate. Labrador worked with a bipartisan group on a comprehensive immigration reform plan but dropped out of negotiations in June. The group fell apart completely last month after two additional Republicans quit.
Labrador said when he was working with the group he was beginning to feel that immigration reform might be a bad-faith effort from Democrats.
"Every single time we were closer to something that actually we could both agree on, the president and his party continued to push back," he said. "It's just the way this guy negotiates. The president and [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid will only negotiate in a take no prisoners type of attitude, and I just don't think it's healthy for the American people and it's definitely not healthy for immigration reform."
Now, Labrador said he doesn't want the House to pass anything on immigration -- even piecemeal bills that many GOP members support -- because it could be combined with the Senate-passed comprehensive reform bill.
"Anything that you pass to the Senate piecemeal they're going to try to conference it with their Senate bill," he said. "It's not worth doing it."
During the event, Labrador said "it would be crazy" for House Republicans to go to conference with the Senate on immigration and attempt to combine the two chambers' bills. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) said House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told him they would only deal with piecemeal legislation and would not conference on the Senate bill.
"I think what he has done over the past two and a half weeks -- he's trying to destroy the Republican party," Labrador said of Obama. "I think that anything we do right now with this president on immigration will be with that same goal in mind, which is to destroy the Republican party and not to get good policies."
Also on HuffPost:
The Template: California Proposition 187 (1994)
California's Proposition 187 was submitted to the voters with the full support of then Republican governor Pete Wilson. It essentially blamed undocumented immigrants for the poor performance of the state economy in the early 1990s. The law called for cutting off benefits to undocumented immigrants: prohibiting their access to health care, public education, and other social services in California. It also required state authorities to report anyone who they suspected was undocumented. <strong>Status:</strong> The law passed with the support of 55 percent of the voters in 1994 but declared unconstitutional 1997. The law was killed in 1999 when a new governor, Democrat Gray Davis, refused to appeal a judicial decision that struck down most of the law. Even though short-lived, the legislation paved the way for harsher immigration laws to come. On the other hand, the strong reaction from the Hispanic community and immigration advocates propelled a drive for naturalization of legal residents and created as many as one million new voters.
The Worst: Arizona SB 1070
The Arizona Act made it a misdemeanor for an undocumented immigrant to be within the state lines of Arizona without legal documents allowing their presence in the U.S. This law has been widely criticized as xenophobic and for encouraging racial profiling. It requires state authorities to inquire about an individual's immigration status during an arrest when there is "reasonable suspicion" that the individual is undocumented. The law would allow police to detain anyone who they believe was in the country illegally. <strong>Status:</strong> The law was signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010. But it has generated a swirl of controversy and questions about its constitutionality. A federal judge issued a ruling that blocked what critics saw as some of the law's harshest provisions. House: 35-31 (4/12/2011)
Following Arizona's Footsteps: Georgia HB 87
The controversy over Arizona's immigration law was followed by heated debate over Georgia's own law. HB 87 required government agencies and private companies to check the immigration status of applicants. This law also limited some government benefits to people who could prove their legal status. <strong>Status:</strong> Although a federal judge temporarily blocked parts of the law considered too extreme, it went into effect on July 1st. 2011. House: 113-56 Senate: 39-17
Verifying Authorized Workers: Pennsylvania HB 1502
This bill, which was approved in 2010, bans contractors and subcontractors employ undocumented workers from having state construction contracts. The bill also protects employees who report construction sites that hire illegal workers. To ensure that contractors hire legal workers, the law requires employers to use the identification verification system E-verify, based on a compilation of legally issued Social Security numbers. <strong>Status:</strong> Approved on June 8th 2010. House: 188-6 (07/08/2010) <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/" target="_hplink">Flickr photo by DonkeyHotey</a>
A Spin Off of Arizona: Utah HB 497
Many states tried to emulate Arizona's SB 1070 law. However, most state legislatures voted against the proposals. Utah's legislature managed to approve an immigration law based on a different argument. Taking into consideration the criticism of racial profiling in Arizona, Utah required ID cards for "guest workers" and their families. In order to get such a card workers must pay a fee and have clean records. The fees go up to $2,500 for immigrants who entered the country illegally and $1,000 for immigrants who entered the country legally but were not complying with federal immigration law, <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2011/mar/06/nation/la-na-illegal-immigration-20110306" target="_hplink">according to the LA Times.</a> <strong>Status: </strong> Law went into effect on 03/15/2011 House: 59-15 (03/04/2011) Senate: 22-5 (03/04/2011)
The Most Comprehensive: Florida HB-1C
Florida's immigration law prohibits any restrictions on the enforcement of federal immigration law. It makes it unlawful for undocumented immigrants within the state to apply for work or work as an independent contractor. It forbids employers from hiring immigrants if they are aware of their illegal status and requires work applicants to go through the E-verify system in order to check their Social Security number. <strong>Status: </strong>effective since October 1st, 2010
The Hot Seat: Alabama HB 56
The new immigration law in Alabama is considered the toughest in the land, even harder than Arizona's SB 1070. It prohibits law enforcement officers from releasing an arrested person before his or her immigration status is determined. It does not allow undocumented immigrants to receive any state benefit, and prohibits them from enrolling in public colleges, applying for work or soliciting work in a public space. The law also prohibits landlords from renting property to undocumented immigrants, and employers from hiring them. It requires residents to prove they are citizens before they become eligible to vote. The law asked every school in the state to submit an annual report with the number of presumed undocumented students, but this part, along with others, were suspended by federal courts. <strong>Status:</strong> Approved June 2nd, 2011 House: 73-28 (04/05/2011) Senate: 23-11 (05/05/2011) <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/longislandwins/" target="_hplink">Flickr photo by longislandwins</a>