Despite calls from Obama & Idaho Dems, GOP leaders don’t plan immigration vote

Thursday was a big day for pressure on House Republicans to take up immigration reform, including the bipartisan bill that passed the Senate 68-32 in June. From Meridian and Kuna to the White House, reform advocates called for votes.

Thursday morning in Washington, President Obama called on the House to pass reform before the year is out, saying, “It’s good for our economy.  It’s good for our national security.  It’s good for our people.  And we should do it this year.”

Early Thursday afternoon in Meridian, protesters delivered chess pawns to GOP Congressman Raul Labrador’s office.  That brought a rebuke from Labrador spokesman Todd Winer, who said Labrador had twice met with the Idaho Community Action Network and Coalition for Immigration Rights of Idaho.

“We’ve listened to them and worked very hard to accommodate them,” Winer said. “They know his position on immigration reform, and what he is doing to make the system better. It seems strange they would try to alienate someone who wants to meet them halfway. What they’re doing today might get media attention, but it will not achieve their goals.”

Later Thursday in a news release with a Kuna dateline, the Idaho Democratic Latino Caucus called on Labrador to “join the President for comprehensive immigration reform” and likened the House GOP strategy to their tactics on the government shutdown:

“Stall. Drag your feet until this legislative session has been cast in stone. Wait for other issues to take headlines and disregard millions of families that face crushing realities such as deportation and separation. Ignore the will of the majority of citizens who understand how vital immigration reform is for all Americans.”

Labrador has advised leadership against dealing with Obama in the wake of the shutdown because “he’s trying to destroy the Republican Party.”

“If the president is going to show the same kind of good faith effort that he’s shown over the last couple of weeks, then I think it would be crazy for the House Republican leadership to enter into negotiations with them on immigration,” Labrador said Oct. 16.

If a report Friday morning in the the Washington, D.C., news site Poltico is correct, Labrador’s argument is carrying the day and House GOP leaders have no plans to vote on immigration this year.

“A growing chorus of GOP lawmakers and aides are intensely skeptical that any of the party’s preferred piecemeal immigration bills can garner the support 217 Republicans — they would need that if Democrats didn’t lend their votes,” write Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman.


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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