Congressman Labrador meets with immigration protesters

Credit: Troy Colson/KTVB

Congressman Labrador meets with immigration protesters

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by Karen Zatkulak

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KTVB.COM

Posted on June 10, 2013 at 5:50 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 10 at 7:31 PM

MERIDIAN -- A dozen protesters caused quite a scene inside the Meridian City Hall on Monday afternoon, demanding to speak with Congressman Raul Labrador on the issue of immigration reform.

The congressman made a decision last week to leave the "Group of Eight" House members' negotiations on an immigration reform bill.

On Monday, local activists refused to leave his office until he explained his reasoning.

It started as a calm speech outside City Hall, but quickly turned into much more inside.

A group of about 12 immigration activists crowded into Congressman Raul Labrador's office, demanding to speak with him.

They wanted an explanation as to why Labrador left the "Group of Eight" negotiations on immigration reform.

Christina McNeil with Idaho Community Action Network said she wanted to know Labrador's current stance on the issue.

"I think it's time for us to stand out and say, 'you know we want to know where you stand on this,'" said McNeil.

After the group chanting loudly for more than a half hour outside his office, Labrador came out to discuss their concerns.

Despite some disagreements and fundamental differences in opinion on the answer to immigration reform, Labrador spoke to the protesters for nearly an hour.

He told them that he's not giving up on reform, but disagreed on certain aspects of the bill that the "Group of Eight" was discussing, particularly who should pay for undocumented immigrants' health care costs.

"I don't believe in Obamacare, and I don't believe people here illegally should receive the benefit of receiving health care paid by U.S. citizens," said Labrador.

Labrador said he's now focused on several comprehensive bills he hopes will pass in the House.

He said hearing from those in his district is part of the process.

"I think they have a right to be heard and I think it's important that I listen to them," said Labrador.

Afterwards, we asked one of the protesters if they felt like they accomplished their goal by speaking to Labrador.

"I think we did make a statement that we are here, that we are demanding to keep families united, and as a community that he should support us," said Ruby Mendez.

The protesters were from several immigration rights groups, including the Idaho Community Action Network.

They tell us they plan to return to Labrador's office with more questions and more protesters.

Labrador tells us he is now working on more comprehensive immigration reform in the House.

He believes it will take several bills and plenty of discussion between both parties to decide on a solution.

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