BOISE -- Immigration is the subject of an ad now airing in the 1st Congressional District race between Democrat Rep. Walt Minnick and Republican challenger Raul Labrador.
AMinnick campaign ad that isnow airing on television stationsclaims illegal immigration's good business forLabrador.
Watch the 30-second commercial here.
Can Minnickback up theclaims? Here's what we found:
The Minnick ad states that over half of [Labrador's]work is helping illegal immigrants stay in the United States. A source cited isan IdahoFarm Bureau blog that quotes Labrador as saying his law firm sees about 10 people a day that have immigration issues. Not all of them are illegal but at least half of them have some sort of illegal status.
In an interview with KTVBFriday, Minnick campaign spokesman John Foster said the claim is based on Raul's own words.
Labrador campaign manager Phil Hardy counters by saying thatjust because someone walks through the door doesn't make Labrador their lawyer.
In a telephone interview Friday, Labrador said that he has counseled illegals that there is nothing he can do for them until they leave the country andtry to re-enter legally.
The Minnick campaign also cites a May Idaho Statesman story and a June report by the Associated Press, but neither source gives specific numbers of illegal immigration cases handled by Labrador.
In the telephone interview Friday, Labrador saidhis job as an immigration lawyer is to walk people through the legal immigration system and that in about 90% ofcaseswhen someone is here illegally, they have to go back to their home country to return legally.
Immigration and Amnesty
The Minnick ad says Labrador even ran RapidImmigration.comwith 'easy to understand' advice for illegal immigrants seeking amnesty.
Labrador ran this web site from 2005-2008. The site's stated mission isto help people navigateU.S. immigration law to enter the country legally.
On the site's home page, it asks What is your goal? with a link to easy to understand pages that will help your immigration goal applying with the USCIS as a temporary visitor or permanent resident.
On May 7, Labrador addressed the issue of amnestywhile campaigning in the GOPprimary:
I do not support amnesty for illegal aliens. That's why I have always advocated that those here illegally must return to their home countries and apply to re-enter per the laws of the United States of America.
A broken system
The Minnick ad sets up a Labrador sound bite by asking, What does Raul think of our broken immigration system?
Labrador is then heard saying, Now, I like it because I make a good living because of it.
The sound bite is ashort version of a longer answer to a question put before him by the Treasure Valley Pachyderms during a question-and-answer session onMarch 26.
When askedwhat we should dowith people living here illegally, Labrador saidthat current laws need to be enforced, thatthose who hire illegals should be punished, andthat the National Guard should be deployed to the Mexican border. He then said this:
We need a guest worker program that actually works. Our system is broken, and this is where I work with the system all the time. I'm trying to get people to go through the legal immigration system. They have to pay me thousands of dollars just to bring somebody to the United States. That's ridiculous. Now, I like it because I'm make a good living because of it, but they shouldn't have to pay an attorney thousands of dollars to bring somebody legally to the United States.
KTVBobtained a video clip that includes thequestion and Labrador's entire answer. Watch the fullLabrador response here.
Thead's abridged sound bite calls into question not only whether the comment was taken out of context, but also whether Labrador was saying what he thinks about the broken immigration system or the legal one.
Foster defends thecampaign commercialas factual and true and most importantly, it's something that the people of Idaho need to know about...I think itprovides an excellent insight into what [Labrador]does for a living.
Labrador counters: This is a disgusting, disgraceful, shameful ad that bald-faced lies and succeeds in only twisting and editing my words into quotes that are blatantly untrue and will be obvious to those who originally wrote them and to those that were there to hear them.
After conducting research, theNewsChannel 7 teamfound that whilelegal immigration certainly is good business for Raul Labrador, there is no evidence to support the claims made in the Minnick ad that illegal immigration benefits Labrador.
We received a documentFriday from the Minnick campaign that lists bullet pointsthat the campaign calls a fact check tosupportthe ad, but none of it provides proof to back up what is in the commercial.