Raul Labrador, the Idaho Republican who last year served as a middleman between conservative House Republicans opposed to the Senate’s Gang of Eight bill and Democrats looking to drag it across the finish line, says he is “disappointed” with House speaker John Boehner’s recent comments, in which he mocked his Republican colleagues for their refusal to tackle immigration reform.
“I was disappointed with Speaker’s Boehner’s comments, and I think they will make it harder – not easier – to pass immigration reform,” Labrador said in a statement.
At a meeting of the Middletown Rotary Club in southwestern Ohio on Thursday, Boehner mocked gave a theatrical impression of the attitude toward immigration reform in the GOP conference.
“Here’s the attitude. Ohhhh. Don’t make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard,” Boehner said. A spokesman for the speaker said his comments were meant in jest: “As the speaker often says to his colleagues, ‘You only tease the ones you love,’” he said.
For Labrador, the subject is no laughing matter.
“The problem is Obama, not House Republicans,” he said. ”Speaker Boehner should have made that point, instead of criticizing the people he is supposed to be leading. I know Speaker Boehner sincerely cares about immigration reform as much as I do. If he wants the Republican Conference to follow him on this issue, he needs to stand up for House Republicans, instead of catering to the media and special interest groups.”
“While America’s immigration system is broken, immigration reform will not and should not happen in 2014,” Labrador has said, because “President Obama and Democratic leaders interfered with a good faith bipartisan effort to reach an agreement in the House on immigration reform.”
Labrador was critical of Mitt Romney’s comment that illegal immigrants should self-deport, and has said that deporting the millions of illegals living in the U.S. would harm the American economy. He favors the establishment of a guest-worker program that would allow illegal immigrants to obtain non-immigrant visas after paying a fine. He opposes any legislation that would open a path to citizenship.