BOISE -- Idaho Republican Congressman Raul Labrador says he and other members of the House of Representatives are close to unveiling a sweeping overhaul of the immigration system, perhaps ahead of a Senate plan. Labrador believes illegal immigration, and the way it's handled, is one of the top problems facing America right now.
Labrador has about a decade-and-a-half of experience working as an immigration lawyer, so he knows how the system works. And he says it's broken.
Labrador spoke to members of the Boise Chamber of Commerce Wednesday. "It's extremely important that we actually fix the system."
He says the first thing he wants to fix is border security. He also believes companies should be penalized for employing illegal immigrants, but only if an effective and simple guest worker program is offered by the government. "It's so difficult to use the current immigration program, the current guest worker visas, that people just give up, either the employees that are trying to come here legally, or the employers that are trying to do it the right way."
Labrador also believes in a path to citizenship, but only if it's the same for everyone. "People that are here illegally, we're not going to round them all up and take them out of the United States. We need to allow them to become legal, but it should be the same path as anybody else who's coming from outside the United States."
But Labrador believes the key to lasting reform is that enforcement of immigration laws inside the U.S. to keep the illegal population down. "That's the only way anything is going to pass out of the House of Representatives, if the Republican Congressmen can feel that we have fixed the system is such a way that we're not going to have to have this same debate ten years from now."
In a recent Pew Poll, 71 percent of people say they want to see illegal immigrant workers stay, but less than half agree they should be allowed to become citizens.
The House hopes to unveil their immigration plan before the Senate unveils theirs. This all could happen next week, but some are skeptical any plan will be ready by then.