Raul Labrador, a sophomore Republican congressman from Idaho and a key figure in the immigration talks in the House, argued today that there should be no special treatment for illegal immigrants.
“Anyone who wants to become a legal permanent resident or a naturalized citizen of the United States is welcome to apply, but the key is they must follow the same procedure that will be available to all immigrants,” he said at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
“It would be a travesty in my opinion to treat those who violated our laws to get here much better than those who have patiently waited their turn to come to the United States of America,” he added.
Instead, Labrador urged, the United States must “offer a fair chance to redeem themselves” for immigrants “who have illegally sought our hospitality.” He suggested that the immigration issue could drive a wedge in the Democratic party, splitting Hispanics and labor unions.
“The Democratic party has a problem right now,” Labrador said. “They have to pick between their two favorite children. They have to pick between the Hispanic groups and the labor unions.”
“And every time they have to make that decision between those two groups,” Labrador warned, “they actually pick the labor unions, every single time.”
Labrador also said conservatives need to stop “flagellating” themselves about their tone on immigration, mentioning most of the harsh rhetoric was coming from about five Republicans. His comments were part of a CPAC panel on immigration reform, and were, for the most part, warmly received.
“The president of the United States voted for an amendment that killed immigration reform,” Labrador argued, referring to the Durbin amendment during the 2007 immigration reform effort, “and yet he got 75 percent of the Hispanic vote.”
Still, he did note that it could help conservatives to sometimes soften their language.
“The problem with the modern Republican party is you have a bunch of Republicans who speak like conservatives and act like moderates,” Labrador said. “We need Republicans who can speak like moderates and act like conservatives.”