Political Animal


April 08, 2013 10:13 AM The Rubio-Labrador Gang

By Ed Kilgore

With Congress returning from its Easter Recess, there will be vast renewed interest in beltway circles in the progress of the bipartisan “gangs” in both Houses who have been working on more-or-less comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

What caught my eye in this morning’s gab gleanings is this tidbit from among five scenarios for immigration legislation identified by Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown and Jake Sherman:

4. The Rubio-Labrador stamp of approval
The fate of immigration reform hinges, in no small way, on the two conservative Washington neophytes.
A big reason Republicans have grown comfortable with immigration reform is because the pair — both Hispanic — have given the process their blessing.
But they’re both facing pressures.
Top GOP aides say it’s tough to read Labrador. And it’s become accepted wisdom that if Rubio doesn’t sign on in the Senate, the chances of passing a bill could evaporate. He’s attempted to keep some public distance from the Gang of Eight, suggesting his approval of a final deal won’t come easily.

Next time you hear someone talk about the declining influence of the Tea Party Movement, consider that immigration legislation may require a “stamp of approval” not only from Rubio but from Raul Labrador, a Puerto Rican Mormon from Idaho who is a true wild man, but is nonetheless deemed a “centrist” on immigration policy because he thinks deporting 11 million undocumented workers is impractical.

But if the Republican Party more or less decides to give two of its rare Latino stars the lead on immigration policy, then this could indeed become the only gang that matters—unless Ted Cruz decides to get in on the act.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on April 08, 2013 10:27 AM:

    If there's a TV camera, I'd bet my last dollar that Ted Cruz will get in on the act.

  • T2 on April 08, 2013 10:33 AM:

    If his first few months in office are an indication, Ted Cruz will inject himself into the fray when he feels it is politically expedient for him. A filibuster threat is always on his lips. Cruz is a lot less concerned with the plight of undocumented workers than he is with his own political career. In fact, as a Canadian of Cuban ancestry who is not particularly fluent in Spanish, he doesn't have much in common with the immigration issue from a Hispanic perspective.

  • biggerbox on April 08, 2013 10:49 AM:

    Poor GOP. It must be hard if you can't be sure your token Hispanics will go along to dress up your policy.

    Republican "outreach": getting some guys in suits who have relatives who grew up in a country where they speak Spanish to say it's OK.

  • Rick B on April 08, 2013 10:51 AM:

    This looks to me as though the Republicans have decided to put Hispanic Republicans in a sandbox of an impossible to sell immigration reform. The Tea Baggers are not going to move away from their standard governance policy ("No! No Way!" Forget it!!") on the subject.

    It has the dual media effect of putting Hispanic Republicans into the media circus, showing how tolerant the Republicans are while at the same time wasting time that could be applied in legislation that might pass.

    It's a "Do nothing with media attention" and at the same time a way of making the Hispanic Republicans think they matter to the party.

  • bigtuna on April 08, 2013 4:45 PM:

    Labrador is in a bit of a spot. The official position of the LDS church is actually not hard right. [A caveat; according to the LDS church, they do not take "official" political positions very often. However, one can read what they do support when a number of prominent LDS politicians and business leaders promote.] In this case, the "Utah Compact" - which is a bit of wishy washy pablums, is supported by the LDS church and is decidedly more centrist than the Arizona laws, or laws that were supported in the Utah leg.

    But, Labrador is from Idaho, so he has to suck up to the wingnuts. It must be hard to "adopt a humane approach to this reality, reflecting our unique culture, history and spirit of inclusion" [From the LDS statement of reform support} with "deport all brown people" that the TPs would support.

  • JoyfulA on April 08, 2013 11:37 PM:

    T2 on Cruz as the Hispanic not actually fluent in Spanish reminds me of the GOP Hispanic highlight of a generation ago, Linda Chavez, who didn't speak Spanish at all.