WASHINGTON • In one of the more impassioned speeches on the House floor Friday night, Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador blamed President Barack Obama for the harm that has befallen some of the undocumented child immigrants crossing into the United States.
Labrador said Obama’s 2012 executive action suspending deportation for some undocumented immigrants brought here as children helped encourage the current influx of tens of thousands from Central America. Many of them are being abused on the journey, he said.
“Many of these children that are coming to the border don’t make it across the river,” Labrador said. “There are reports of the discovery of small, lifeless bodies washed up along the riverbanks.”
Labrador, a conservative Republican who has a higher profile than most on immigration issues, helped craft the two bills that passed, with overwhelming Republican support, Friday night. After tea party opposition led the GOP House leadership to cancel a planned Thursday vote on a $659 million bill to address border issues, Labrador called a meeting of about 20 conservatives who had concerns about the bill and worked out language to satisfy them, according to the Wall Street Journal. The bill was beefed up to $694 million, mostly due to money for states that deploy the National Guard on the border. The second bill would roll back Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA only applies to people brought here before 2007, but some conservatives have argued it gave the impression that children who came here would be able to stay. Labrador and Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, voted for both.
The House’s partisan approval of the DACA rollback won’t lead anywhere for now — the Senate had already ended its session and left town by the time the House bills even came up for debate. Idaho Republican Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, who both voted Thursday night to kill a Democrat-backed $2.7 billion border measure, put out a joint statement Friday also blaming DACA for the influx.
“The supplemental request before the Senate lacked the proper assurances that the additional resources would be used to enforce the law and strengthen our border,” said Crapo. “In addition, the Senate Majority Leader blocked all amendments, including those to put in place real reforms that would ensure our immigration laws do not incentivize continued illegal immigration.”