Labrador: Snippy and dismissive, immigration expert, or somewhere in between?

U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador caught the National Review’s attention last week.

According to this June 6 post, Labrador and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, butted heads during a immigration debate hosted by the Republican Study Committee. The post mentions Labrador’s demeanor multiple times, saying he “sternly lectured” the 100 lawmakers in the room about a study Bachmann cited and was dismissive of Bachmann’s concerns.

The last paragraph is especially interesting:

“Beyond the important and interesting substance of the debate, several people in the room noted that the tenor of Labrador’s response to Bachmann was dismissive and at odds with the rest of the discussion which was very respectful. Labrador was described as “snippy” and someone “sick of hearing” all the criticisms about immigration reform. His spokesman said it was a “positive meeting” and that Labrador’s responses were “very fact-based.” (For context, make sure you read the whole post by Jonathan Strong.)

Two things come to mind here.

First, remember Labrador is an immigration lawyer, and he knows his stuff. His arguments on immigration aren’t merely sound bites — he’s dedicated his career to immigration. Agree with his approach or not, he knows nuances that the average American (lawmakers included) doesn’t understand.

But keep in mind that Labrador also dropped out of the immigration Group of Eight talks last week, citing philosophical differences on the approach to health care access in legislation the bipartisan group is crafting. 

Here’s what I’m interested in: How many people in DC and the national media are actually aware of (or care about) Labrador’s immigration expertise? If he’s getting a reputation as difficult to work with (regardless of whether it’s deserved), is his expertise going to matter? 

It’s something to keep an eye on as the immigration debate heats up. 

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2 Responses to Labrador: Snippy and dismissive, immigration expert, or somewhere in between?

  1. Jared Larsen says:

    Right, Labrador is complex in that he’s one of the Tea Party rabble-rousers of the 2010 class, yet on the issue of immigration he is fairly pragmatic. But his legislative career both in Idaho and DC signal that pragmatism is not his wheelhouse. I doubt he felt comfortable giving political cover to his leadership (which he doesn’t support) on the issue. Furthermore, I don’t know how the first congressional district would have reacted to a congressman voting in favor of offering a path to citizenship to the undocumented already here. I sincerely doubt that plays well in Payette, Potlatch or Post Falls.

    I think Mike Simpson will have more leeway to support immigration reform. The second congressional district has a slightly larger Hispanic population and many more farmers and employers heavily dependent on immigrant labor. But the key piece I think is the LDS church which in the past few years has been much more vocal against extreme legislative measures against in Utah. In a district dominated by members of that faith, I wouldn’t discount that giving the Simpson the political space to support immigration reform. Add to the mix Simpson’s more centrist proclivities and his uncanny ability to avoid serious primary challenges, I think he’s safe.

  2. Pingback: Labrador: Snippy and dismissive, immigration expert, or somewhere in between? | Only the Best of Intentions

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