Breaking through the cloud of pessimism that continues to darken the prospects for compromise even after President Barack Obama met with House Republicans on Wednesday is a single but crucial ray of sunshine: immigration reform.
Idaho Rep. Raúl Labrador, a conservative stalwart elected in 2010 who is part of a bipartisan House working group trying to develop comprehensive legislation to overhaul the U.S. immigration system, expressed pointed suspicion of Obama’s charm offensive, saying the president’s remarks did not lead him to believe he was serious about working with House Republicans on the major issues before Congress.
But on the topic of immigration, Labrador said he sensed something different.
The Idaho Republican said he believes Obama was sincere when he talked about his desire to reach an accord on overhauling immigration policy, which remains politicized and highly contentious. Labrador appeared struck by the fact that Obama conceded that Democrats would be better off, politically, if nothing gets done, given that Hispanics supported him and his party by wide margins in the 2012 elections and would likely continue to do so even if Washington ignores the issue.
“He just said that he wanted to get something done on immigration and that the felt the next four months are the perfect time for it,” Labrador said. “I think he’s sincere as he can be on that issue and I think he wants to get it done; he acknowledged that it would be better for his party to not have immigration reform because we would get blamed for it so I’m still optimistic that we can get something done this year.”
Labrador said Obama’s remarks on the subject were general and did not delve into policy specifics.