Immigration overhaul crowded out by Syria, other issues, GOP lawmaker says

The immigration overhaul at the center of President Obama’s domestic agenda would be defeated in the House this year and may not even come up for a vote until 2015, a key Republican lawmaker said in an interview to air Sunday.

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), who has been a point man for the GOP on immigration discussions with Democrats, told Univision anchor Jorge Ramos that debates over fiscal policy and the situation in Syria are leaving little if any time for consideration of the immigration plan that passed the Senate in June. And lawmakers would be loath to tackle such an emotional issue during next year’s mid-term elections.

“If we don’t do it now, in 2013, it’s not going to be -- it’s not going to happen in 2014,” Labrador said in an interview scheduled to air on Ramos’s Sunday public affairs program, "Al Punto." “And that means that we’re going to have to wait until 2015. So now, that time is -- it’s becoming a lot shorter. We don’t know exactly when we’re going to be able to have this debate.

"A lot of us thought that the debate was going to be in October, but now, with the problems that we’re having internationally and also here in this country, I don’t see how we’re going to be able to have this debate until -- until November. And I really don’t know if it will be possible to do it in November.”

Labrador, a native of Puerto Rico and former immigration lawyer who has staked out a conservative stance on the issue, told Ramos that he would not support a “special path” to citizenship for the millions of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. He noted that he favors more visas for foreign workers, but even that position is proving controversial with colleagues.

“I think we should have more immigrants, that we should have more people working legally in the United States, and speed up the number of visas that are available,” he said. “There are a lot of Republicans who don’t agree with me, and in fact there are a lot of Democrats who don’t agree with me about this because they think that unions and other people want those numbers to be really, really small. So I think it’s a debate that we have to have, and at this time I don’t think the votes are there in the House of Representatives.”

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Aaron Blake · September 6, 2013

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