U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador says that Democrats will always support Big Labor over their Hispanic constituency, which is a major obstacle to immigration reform.
The Idaho Republican and former immigration lawyer said that opposition from groups like the AFL-CIO prevent progress on the issue because of their objections to a guest-worker program.
“The Democratic Party has a problem right now,” Labrador said during a panel held at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday. “They have to pick between their two favorite children: Hispanics and labor unions.
“If they have to choose, they will pick labor unions every time.”
Dan Garza, executive director of the LIBRE Initiative, said Congress has a “conundrum” becuase Republicans won’t support a direct path to citizenship, and Democrats won’t support a measure that calls for mere legality such as a guest-worker program.
“My hope is that American conservatives will come together to demand a bipartisan compromise – a compromise that improves the American economy, a policy that honors our immigration legacy, and yes, reform that would allow hardworking people to come out of the shadows and assimilate like the many groups that came before them.”
Labrador said he is optimistic that Congress will pass reform in 2013 that modernizes the current legal immigration system, enforces border security, and implements a guest-worker program.
He said that passing such a proposal will enable the U.S. to compete for a skilled workforce that currently does not have access to America.
“This is a golden opportunity for us as conservatives,” he said. “The world is competing for the jobs of the future. It’s time for the United States to compete for them too.”
Labrador concluded that both parties have had ample time to debate the issue at conferences like CPAC and in the halls of Congress, but the time for debating the issue is coming to a close.
“Let’s stop talking about this and just get immigration reform done,” he said.
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