Labrador Decides Against Comprehensive Bill, Opts for Series of Immigration Measures

Rebecca Kaplan

Rep. Raul Labrador has decided to take a piecemeal approach to immigration reform and will work with House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., to author legislation, the Idaho Republican told National Journal on Wednesday.

Labrador, who backed out of bipartisan talks in the House last week because of differences over health care for illegal immigrants, said he hopes to introduce some legislation by next week. He will ultimately write “a couple bills” that would complement pieces Goodlatte has already introduced on interior enforcement, high-skilled workers, E-verify, and agricultural guest workers.

“I think we need something to pass out of the House of Representatives," he said, "and I think if we have companion bills with what Chairman Goodlatte is doing, I think that’s probably the best option right now of getting something passed.” He has not yet shared his plans with the remaining members of the bipartisan group.

Though Labrador, seen as one of the most important Republican voices on immigration in the House, declined to elaborate on the content of the measures, he said last week that reform done one bill at a time must still cover the entire system.

“We have to have a comprehensive approach to immigration reform, because, No. 1, it’s the right thing to do, it's the right policy; but No. 2, politically, if we don’t do a comprehensive approach, it's never going to pass the Senate,” he said.

Labrador has voiced support for legalizing unauthorized immigrants who are currently in the country, which is a major component of the Senate bill and would likely have to be dealt with by the House in order to reconcile legislation from the two chambers. That is one issue he could tackle, along with reforms to the low-skilled worker visa and other aspects of the legal immigration system.

House Speaker John Boehner acknowledged in a press conference Wednesday morning that both the remaining members of the bipartisan group and Chairman Goodlatte have been working on immigration legislation. In an interview with ABC News on Tuesday, he said he would like to see legislation move through the Judiciary Committee by the end of the month.

Labrador said he thought that deadline was “a little bit early, but I think it’s feasible to get something through the committee by the end of this year.” He declined to give himself a deadline for moving his legislation to markup, but Goodlatte plans to begin marking up his interior-enforcement bill next week, according to Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., a member of the committee.