Back from border, Labrador says empower local police to enforce immigration law

Congressman Raul Labrador says U.S. Border Patrol agents are doing an “awesome job using the best technology” but that he’s more convinced than ever that state and local police should join the federal government in enforcing federal immigration law.

The Idaho Republican was back home Tuesday after a three-day official visit to California and Arizona. Labrador said the drones, boats, fences, towers, tunnel detectors and personnel aren’t enough to stem illegal entry.

“You see all the money we’re spending at the border and the great job these men and women are doing,” Labrador said. “And they’re still not stopping all the people coming in. It actually emphasizes the point that I’ve been making: We still need to have really strong interior enforcement. We have to go beyond throwing resources at the border and think about what we do in the interior.”

Labrador said his opposition to the reform bill passed by the Senate 68-32, with 14 Republican ayes, is stronger after the trip. The Senate bill includes a $46 billion “border surge” to add almost 20,000 additional Border Patrol agents and build about 700 miles of fence.

The trip was led by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and four other GOP congressmen. Labrador met with Border Patrol Chief Mike Fisher and the chief of the San Diego sector, Paul Beeson, as well as officials from the U.S. Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Department of Homeland Security and San Diego Harbor Police.

For more on Labrador’s tour, read tomorrow’s Idaho Statesman in print and online.

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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