A House Republican suggested Wednesday that the President is preventing immigration reform from taking place and making undocumented immigrants “suffer” as a result. During a “Conversations with Conservatives” event hosted by the Heritage Foundation, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) told a reporter that in order to fix the issue of family separation through deportations, Congress could “get rid of the waivers,” which would allow undocumented immigrants the ability to re-enter the country, but that President Obama was preventing even that possibility.
What we can do is to get rid of the waivers — people who want to leave the country and come back they have to wait in their home country and wait 10 years to 20 years. … We could pass that in this Congress tomorrow, but the Obama administration will not allow that to happen because it’s not the full comprehensive bill … The position with this President is that unless he gets everything, he’s willing to let people suffer because he wants nothing.
Labrador also stated he wanted to wait on reform because it’s “the last issue to me”:
We should deal with all the areas of immigration that are broken, and I would even deal with the 11 million, but that’s a last issue to me … There was overwhelming support for the idea of doing nothing this year, in 2014. I’ve seen some reports reports today in the media that the majority of the people were okay with the immigration principles, but that’s just not true … I do think we need to address the issue, but I think when we take back the Senate in 2014, that one of the first things we should do next year after we do certain economic issues, I think we should address the immigration reform issue. The President has a year to prove to us that he willing to actually enforce the law … This administration is protecting labor unions. Until we have that trust, it would be a mistake to move forward on immigration reform.
On Tuesday night, Labrador went so far as to call for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to lose his speakership if he brings the bill to a vote this year.
Labrador’s proposed fix seems aimed at a federal ban on immigrants returning to the country, who have overstayed their visas for more than a year. Those immigrants are prevented from coming back to the United States anywhere between three to 20 years. In a few cases, some immigrants can even be permanently banned from re-entry. But it’s unclear how permission for undocumented immigrants to return to the country would stop their “suffering” so long as they remain subject to deportation.
Undocumented immigrants want a way to have permanent roots in the United States. At least 57 percent of Americans saying that they would support a way for undocumented immigrants to legally live in the United States. Almost 90 percent of undocumented immigrants expressed interest in applying for citizenship if allowed. And the vast majority of undocumented immigrants have family members who are U.S. citizens. What’s more, citizenship would allow immigrants to boost the economy and create jobs.