SANDPOINT — Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador is uniquely qualified to be in the center of the immigration debate that’s currently taking place in Washington, D.C.
Labrador, who was an immigration lawyer for 15 years before being elected to Idaho’s first congressional district, says the system has to be fixed.
“Ninety percent of the dairy workers in Idaho are here illegally,” he said. “There is no visa for them to be able to work here and nobody else will do those jobs.”
And while many people see the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. as a huge problem, Labrador said they aren’t his primary concern. He thinks the real problem is controlling the borders and enforcement to make sure business owners aren’t hiring illegal workers.
“We’ll just have a third wave of illegal immigrants coming across the border if we offer citizenship to those folks already here if we don’t tighten things up,” he said.
Labrador and his wife, Rebecca, are in North Idaho for two days to listen to constituents. On Friday they met with 30 people at Ivano’s.
Some of the highlights of his hour-long speech and questions and answers included:
• Sequestration. It is a good thing. “For the first time in a generation we stopped spending money,” he said. “This is not really cutting spending, all we are doing is slowing the rate at which we spend and cutting some discretionary spending.”
• The country is slowly moving in the right direction. “I really believe in smaller government,” he said. “This is not just a campaign slogan.”
When he was in state government and now at the national level, he is part of a “wingnut coalition” that brings together far reaches from each party to work for a common good.
“It sounds funny but it worked in Idaho and will work in Washington, D.C.”
• “In D.C. if someone says they are going to use a scalpel on anything, nothing is going to get done,” he said.
• President Obama “needs to get off the campaign trail and do the hard work,” he said. “He is very smart but is more interested in public victories that win/win scenarios. He is no Bill Clinton and I am not the biggest fan of Bill Clinton but he could learn a few lessons from him.”
• He overheard a conversation between two federal employees who were discussing the impact of the sequestration. One person said to the other that there should be eight people in her work group who should be fired because they never work. Instead, the entire department is forced to be furloughed one day a month.
• Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster was “the most impressive thing I have seen in Washington in a long time.”