Conservatives in the House of Representatives said Wednesday that passing immigration reform for political reasons would be a mistake and that pandering to Hispanics won't win votes.
"If what we start doing is we start pandering and start giving goodies out to people, then we're going to get into a bidding war with the Democratic Party," Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, told a group of reporters and bloggers at a monthly press briefing. "And if we get into a bidding war, we always lose because the Democrats are always more willing to give goodies to a certain group than we are."
Labrador, speaking alongside Reps. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., Tom McClintock, R-Calif., and Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., also said he does not support the Senate bill as written because it grants amnesty first, promises border security some time in the future and only decreases illegal immigration by 25 percent. "That means we're not doing our job here in Washington, D.C.," Labrador said. "If we grant amnesty to 11 million and only decrease illegal immigration by 25 percent, then we haven't done our job."
The Senate immigration bill is expected to be voted on sometime next week. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., moved to end debate on the bill and schedule the final vote before the July 4 recess. The bill would then move to the House, where Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, essentially said that the Senate bill would be dead on arrival. "We'll do our own bill, through regular order and it'll be a bill that reflects the will of our majority and the people we represent," Boehner told House Republicans during a weekly meeting. In the past, Boehner has said he wouldn't bring an immigration bill up for a vote that a majority of Republicans did not support.
As to what that bill may look like, it is unclear. But the debate is shaping up to be contentious.
Labrador insisted that passing an immigration bill just to pass a bill is not the way to woo Hispanics. "It's about time that Republicans became statesmen on this issue and actually stop pandering to groups," he said. "That's what differentiates Republicans from Democrats — Democrats pander, Republicans should never pander. We should do things because it's the right policy."