Idahoans press reluctant Labrador to rejoin bipartisan immigration reform talks

Idaho GOP Congressman Raul Labrador is using “immigrant families as pawns in his political games,” say the Idaho Community Action Network and Coalition for Immigration Rights of Idaho.

Reform advocates say they will deliver the last of 2,500 petitions to Labrador’s Meridian office at 1 p.m. Thursday, along with pawns from a chess set and an attached message: “Congressman Labrador we are not your pawn, we are not a game you can play your political games with.”

A news conference will follow.

The groups are urging Labrador to “return to the bipartisan table and hammer out a pathway to citizenship that works for all Americans.”

UPDATE, 1:45 p.m.: The full House had a very brief “pro forma” session Thursday, approving the journal, praying and saying the Pledge of Allegiance. There were no floor votes. Labrador was in Boise at noon for the Idaho Private 75 luncheon and left the Boise Centre shortly after 1 p.m. Shortly before 9 a.m., I emailed Labrador’s spokesman, Todd Winer, asking whether my assumption that the congressman was in Washington, D.C., was correct. I also asked for a response to the reform advocates. Winer did not reply to my question about Labrador’s whereabouts, but did provide a statement responding to the protesters shortly after 11 a.m. I erroneously assumed that meant that Labrador was in Washington and updated an earlier version of this post to say he was in D.C. I apologize for my error.

Said Winer in response to the advocates:

“Rep. Labrador has met with these groups twice, and his staff has met with them on several other occasions. We’ve listened to them and worked very hard to accommodate them. 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.”

Labrador, who made his living as an immigration lawyer until being elected in 2010, had said his second term in office would chiefly focus on immigration reform. Until June, he was part of a group of four Republican and four Democrats  — the “Gang of Eight” — working to draft reform legislation. But Labrador withdrew in June, saying he couldn’t agree to Democrats’ call to include immigrants in the Affordable Care Act.

Last week, Labrador said “it would be crazy” for Republicans to negotiate with President Obama on immigration after the the president’s negotiating tactics on the budget and debt.

“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.

“And I’m a proponent of immigration reform,” he added. “So, I think what he has done over the last two and a half weeks – he’s trying to destroy the Republican Party. And I think that anything that 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 get good policies.”

On Monday, National Review reporter Andrew Stiles cited Labrador’s statements in a long story assessing the dim prospects in the House for negotiations based on reform legislation drafted by the Senate’s own bipartisan “Gang of Eight.”

Titled “Dug in Against the Gang of Eight,” Stiles reported that a coalition of more than 100 conservative and tea party groups urged House Republican leaders to “make a public commitment that the House of Representatives will not conference any House immigration bill with any version of the Senate immigration bill or engage in any informal negotiations to do so.”

A news release from the reform advocates follows:


***Thursday, October 24, 1:15 PM***

Immigrant Families and Immigration Reform

Advocates Tell Rep. Labrador:

“We Are Not Your Pawns, Put People Before Politics!”

Idaho Community Action Network to Demand Bi-Partisan Vote on Citizenship Pledge this is only the Beginning of More Hard-Hitting Actions Until Congress Passes CIR This Year

Boise, ID—Idaho Community Action Network and the Coalition for Immigration Rights of Idaho, comprised of fathers, mothers, students and young children, faith leaders, workers, and business supporters will hold a press conference this Thursday, October 24 in front of U.S. Rep. Labrador’s office at 1:15 PM, to tell the Congressman that he can no longer use immigrant families as pawns in his political games. Most importantly he should return to the bi-partisan table and hammer out a pathway to citizenship that works for all Americans. The office address is 33 E. Broadway Ave. Meridian,ID 83642.

This press conference follows three days of actions with Idahoans supporters faxing 500 petitions on Tuesday; delivering an additional 1000 postcard signatures on Wednesday and Thursday hand delivering another 1000 signatures accompanied by a community delegation that will address the Congressman. Along with the delivery was a “gift” from each participants of a pawn from a chess piece with the message: Congressman Labrador we are not your pawn, we are not a game you can play your political games with. On Thursday signatures will be delivered at 1PM, Thursday accompanied with a Large poster size pawn with the same message. Press Conference will follow.

As the lone bipartisan issue with majority support in Congress—and among voters across the country—House Republicans can help repair their image by scheduling a vote for a path to citizenship.

Now that the US budget and debt ceiling have been temporarily resolved, Congress—and the House Republicans, has a lot of work to do to prove to the American people they are capable of governing. House Republicans can begin redeeming themselves by immediately scheduling a vote for immigration reform.

It is time for Congress to get back to work and stop playing politics with people’s lives. Each day that Congress drags its feet, 1,100 families are torn apart by senseless deportations. That’s why ICAN and CIRI are escalating efforts to pass immigration reform this year.

EVENT/ SPEAKERS:         Ayde Saavedra

Reverend Debbie Graham

Chris Cooke

Veronica Martinez

LOCATION:                         33 E. Broadway Ave. Meridian, ID 83642

DATE/TIME:                       Thursday, October 24 at 1:15 PM


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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