Congressman Raúl Labrador (R-ID) made the media rounds Thursday, a week after announcing his decision to quit the House’s version of the Senate's “Gang of Eight,” a group of eight lawmakers working toward sweeping immigration legislation.
Labrador said he was leaving the group over a disagreement about the health care provision of the bill — he opposes any coverage for people who came to the U.S. illegally.
On “Fox & Friends” Thursday morning, Labrador gave host Gretchen Carlson more details about what specifically had him walking away.
“One of the biggest magnets to the Unites States for people coming here illegally is that they’re getting free services,” Labrador told Carlson.
Labrador said he felt the group was not going to address the issue and therefore would default to Democrats.
“They decided to punt on the issue,” said Labrador. “Not addressing the issue leads to Obamacare.”
Labrador took his party to task later in the morning on “The Laura Ingraham Show” saying that his party was hoping an affiliation with immigration reform would draw them closer to the Latino voters.
“[The GOP] has this fantasy that [immigration reform is] how we win the Hispanic vote,” Labrador told Ingraham. “We win the Hispanic vote by reaching out to them, by talking to them or by explaining to them that our hopes and aspirations are the same as their hopes and aspirations.”
Labrador cited Congressman Steve Pearce (R-NM) for having the right approach in reaching out to Latinos, alluding to his large Latino support.
He also echoed critics of the immigration reform bill who consider border security to be the primary concern.
“I think we need border security first. I think we should have E-Verify first,” Labrador told the radio host. “I think there should be a path to legal status and that they should use the current legalization and legal permanent residence and citizenship laws. We should not create a new pathway for them.”
The Idaho lawmaker who was born in Puerto Rico also expressed his displeasure with the fact the country hasn’t been made the priority with this legislation.
“[Citizenship is] not a right. It’s a privilege that America can grant,” Labrador said. “We should put America first, not America second and the 11 million [undocumented] first.”