His plan differs from Rubio’s in one key respect. Rubio’s Senate proposal would give illegals the option of (A) returning home, waiting 10 years, and then applying for a green card or (B) staying here in America, obtaining a work visa, and then being forced to wait to apply for a green card until some hazy “substantial period of time” had elapsed. Labrador rejects option A but is harder to pin down on option B. At first, it sounds from the audio below like he’s categorically ruling out citizenship. Quote:
“The people that came here illegally knowingly — I don’t think they should have a path to citizenship. If you knowingly violated our law, you violated our sovereignty, I think we should normalize your status but we should not give you a pathway to citizenship.”
So far, so good. But when the interviewer presses him at the end, he seems to suggest that some illegals who work in qualifying jobs might be eligible for a green card later on. He’s clearly ruling out a special path to citizenship, i.e. a new mechanism created by Congress specifically for people who jumped the border, but as far as letting them stay here and go to the back of the line to try to apply for citizenship through normal procedural channels, he seems at least open to the possibility.
Which makes sense. One of Labrador’s partners in the bipartisan House group that’s working on an immigration bill is Luis Gutierrez, a guy who’s prone to saying things like “I have only one loyalty, and that’s to the immigrant community.” Is he willing to forfeit eventual citizenship for illegals in the name of securing some lesser status for people who are here? I’m thinking … no:
“I think it would be wrong for us to create a permanent underclass of people who live in this country who never can reach American citizenship,” said Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL). “I want them to have all the responsibilities and obligations that come along with American citizenship.”
“Not only is second-class status a bad policy option, it’s bad politics for the GOP,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigration America’s Voice. “It tells Latino, Asian, and immigrant voters that their loved ones are good enough to cook for us, clean for us, and take care of our children, but they can never become one of us.”
On NPR, Labrador called on Democrats to decide whether they wanted “a political victory or a policy victory.”
In fairness to Gutierrez, there’s at least one poll that suggests Americans are on his side. If we normalize illegals, then citizenship must follow — eventually:
Labrador’s trying to back Democrats off from citizenship by accusing them of wanting a “political victory” instead of a “policy victory,” which could be achieved if they simply dropped the citizenship demand and partnered with Republicans on granting illegals work visas. But why can’t Democrats have both? If I were Gutierrez, I’d accept Labrador’s compromise and then immediately get to work demagoging the “permanent underclass” talking point in the excerpt above. Eventually, it’ll create enough pressure on the GOP that they’ll either cave in a few years and speed up the citizenship process for newly normalized illegals or Democrats will simply do it themselves once they’ve regained the House. All they need is a foot in the door of legalization; they can let courts and electoral demographics take care of the rest.
Exit question: Are we headed for a scenario where Rubio and House Republicans end up more or less campaigning publicly against each other on the citizenship point? Nothing bad could come from that, right?