Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) was dead wrong when he criticized the accuracy of Breitbart News reporting on Tuesday.
At “Conversations With Conservatives,” a monthly panel where conservative lawmakers field questions from the press, Labrador falsely accused Breitbart News of “dishonest” reporting and refused to answer whether he would support curbing visa issuances to Muslim countries.
When Breitbart News asked members if they would support curbing Muslim immigration, Labrador replied with a personal attack on this reporter—one he could not substantiate.
“I don’t answer questions from you because you are not a truthful reporter and I will not answer any of your questions,” Labrador said.
When pressed by this reporter to identify what Breitbart News reports he deemed “not truthful,” Labrador could not point to a single article or fact.
Here’s an exact transcript of what transpired during the Conversations with Conservatives event on Tuesday:
JULIA HAHN (JH): A majority of GOP voters think that immigration rates are too high—that’s driven predominantly by green cards and legal immigration. Sen. Rand Paul has proposed that we suspend all visas issuances to Muslim countries with jihadist movements, and so I was wondering if I could just get a show of hands—and of course you can elaborate later—of how many of you on stage would be willing to support a suspension or reduction to Muslim immigration as Rand Paul has suggested?
SEVERAL MEMBERS, INCLUDING REPS. RANDY WEBER (R-TX), DAVID BRAT (R-VA), AND CYNTHIA LUMMIS (R-WY) RAISED THEIR HANDS. BEFORE OTHERS ON THE PANEL COULD RAISE THEIR HANDS OR ELABORATE, LABRADOR CUT ACROSS THE QUESTIONING AND IMPUGNED THE INTEGRITY OF BREITBART NEWS. IN AN INTERVIEW AFTER THE PANEL CONCLUDED, REP. STEVE KING (R-IA) ALSO CONFIRMED HE SUPPORTS CURBING MUSLIM IMMIGRATION.
JH: And those of you who don’t raise your—
RAUL LABRADOR (RL): I don’t answer questions from you because you are not a truthful reporter and I will not answer any of your questions.
JH: Wait, I’m sorry, could you tell me what I’ve reported that’s not truthful?
RL: We have tried and you guys won’t change your reporting
ROBERT BLUEY OF HERITAGE FOUNDATION, MODERATOR OF PANEL: We can take this up afterward, let’s not get into a debate.
JH: Okay, so you’re not willing to commit as to whether you would support Rand Paul’s–
RL: I’m not talking to you.
When other media outlets pressed Labrador for specifics on the matter after the panel, however, he pointed to a report about a recent Breitbart News interview with Jim Jordan. The Huffington Post’s Matt Fuller writes:
The cause of the dustup was apparently a story from Monday wherein Hahn went after House Freedom Caucus chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) for getting no commitment from Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) that Congress would curb the immigration of Muslim refugees.
“He wasn’t even asked a question about the refugee program in that story,” Labrador told The Huffington Post after the event.
What Labrador alleged was entirely untrue. House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) was asked about the refugee program on multiple occasions throughout the interview with Breitbart News. In fact, Jordan was asked specifically about legislation offered by his colleague Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) which would halt the refugee resettlement. Jordan was also asked about whether the Freedom Caucus would pressure Paul Ryan to block the funding for Obama’s refugee resettlement program in the year-end Omnibus spending bill.
The Breitbart News article from the Jordan interview reads:
Breitbart asked specifically about refugee resettlement: “Has he [Ryan] made any guarantees about advancing Brian Babin’s bill [to pause] refugee resettlement?”
Jordan replied, “He [Ryan] didn’t talk about that, no.”
Breitbart followed up, pressing Jordan again about whether they had plans to address refugee resettlement in the omnibus spending bill. Breitbart News explained, “In the omnibus spending bill, right now we’re writing a blank check to Office of Refugee Resettlement to resettle all of President Obama’s Syrian refugees.”
In response, Jordan did not say whether they intended to address refugee resettlement in the spending package and simply declared, “the House Freedom Caucus is going to be opposed to this bill, we’re all going to vote against this bill.”
After the exchange with Breitbart News during the panel, Labrador left early. While the panel was still going on, Breitbart News caught up with Labrador as he was in the hallway. Labrador physically fled, nearly slamming a door in this reporter’s face, in order to avoid answering a question about whether he supports reducing or increasing immigration.
Here is a transcript of what transpired in the hallway:
JULIA HAHN (JH): Congressman, can I ask, why will you not say if you would support immigration reductions?
RAUL LABRADOR (RL): I don’t talk to you. I don’t talk to you. You are dishonest. You’re a dishonest person.
JH: I’m sorry, what have I said that’s dishonest?
RL: Everything you have written is dishonest.
JH: Could you point to one single thing?
RL: We have tried to point it out and you guys didn’t care.
JH: Do you support increasing immigration—yes or no?
Labrador did not respond.
JH: It’s a yes or no question, Congressman.
RL: I’m not talking to you.
JH: Mick Mulvaney has [suggested] that he supports increasing immigration. Do you agree with him?
Labrador did not respond.
JH: So you really just won’t say whether you support increasing immigration or not? You’ll [talk about] it on NBC’s Meet the Press, but you won’t say it to me?
Labrador didn’t respond and nearly slammed a door in this reporter’s face.
Nonetheless, King, a conservative from Iowa who’s been one of the strongest Republicans on immigration, told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview after the panel that he would support a suspension of visas to people from predominantly Muslim nations with jihadist movements.
“I would be willing to support that,” King told Breitbart News. “I think it’s the right thing to do. We should be looking at this thing culturally. And where is all of this venom coming from? It’s coming from people who are migrating in from the Middle East, and 90-something percent of them are Muslim, and if you look at a map of the world on where there have been terrorist attacks, you can look around Europe and see and find people who are committing terrorist attacks, they’re almost exclusively Muslim.”
Every year, the United States admits 280,000 migrants from predominantly Muslim countries. This number includes more than 100,000 migrants who were permanently resettled with green cards, more than 100,000 as temporary students or workers, and almost 40,000 as lifetime refugees and asylees. As a result of issuing so many visas to Muslim migrants, half a million U.S. girls are at risk of suffering Female Genital Mutilation. Since 9/11, according to the Senate Immigration Subcommittee, the United States has permanently resettled 1.5 million Muslim immigrants. According to Senator Jeff Sessions, who chairs that subcommittee, they have “identified at least 26 foreign-born individuals inside the United States charged with or convicted of terrorism over approximately the last year alone.”
According to Pew, more than nine in ten Republican voters would like to see future immigration rates reduced.
However, as immigration experts have documented, Congressman Labrador has a long history of pushing to expand immigration levels.
As the Center for Immigration Studies’ Steve Camarota has previously explained, Labrador holds a largely similarly position on immigration as rejected Speaker contender and Republican establishment’s Kevin McCarthy.
They are both what I would call high immigration guys. They are inclined to see the benefits of immigration, not the costs. They’re inclined to be sympathetic to employers who want more workers and not as inclined to see the general wage stagnation across the U.S. economy and the enormous number of working-age people not working.
NumbersUSA’s Rosemary Jenks also told Breitbart News that Labrador supports increasing immigration–not reducing immigration. “He is for increasing immigration through the guest worker program, which NumbersUSA opposes. We want to reduce immigration. We are hoping we can bring him along, but we have not any seen indications of that yet,” Jenks said.
Labrador was also a member of the House’s Gang of Eight, which sought to pass Marco Rubio’s amnesty agenda in 2013, before he eventually dropped out of the group. As The Washington Post reported at the time:
Labrador has been conducting quiet talks with Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.), one of the House’s leading liberal immigration advocates. Recently, he requested a meeting with President Obama, the nemesis of many in his party and his congressional class, to discuss working together on the issue.
The Washington Post reports that Labrador believes Republicans need to move closer to the left on the issue of immigration.
The Post writes:
Labrador [said]. “It’s one of the stumbling blocks that I see for some Republicans. They’re moderate on every other issue, and they think this is the one issue [i.e. immigration] where they have to become conservatives. I feel the reverse.”
Labrador… favors allowing those without documents to seek a nonimmigrant visa — part of a new, robust guest-worker program. It would allow them to step forward and gain legal status.. he says, normalized residents should be able to seek a green card, which offers permanent residency and is a prerequisite for eventual citizenship.
What’s more, as Rep. Steve King explained on Twitter last year, “#Labrador is pro amnesty. If not this year, he has strongly advocated for amnesty next year. No fair trying to redefine amnesty.”
Indeed, Labrador has expressed his support for legalizing the illegal immigrant population and has even supported the possibility of citizenship for illegal immigrants. As Labrador told reporters in 2013, “What I think should happen is for illegal immigrants to come out of the shadows, become legalized in some way and that status could lead in someway to legal residency and citizenship eventually but just the same as everybody else.”
Labrador’s refusal to commit to curbing Muslim immigration is significant as House Speaker Paul Ryan prepares a show vote on the nation’s importation of Muslim refugees. Last month, Raul Labrador cast his vote to elect Paul Ryan as House Speaker.
“We can always count on Republicans to take a 90/10 winning national security issue and turn it into a shiny object,” Conservative Review’s Daniel Horowitz writes.
Instead of listening to their constituents and following the calls of 30 governors to shut down Islamic refugee resettlement, Republicans are about to pull the classic bait and switch: pass a phony standalone bill and decline to defund it in the budget bill… Remember Obamacare, executive amnesty, EPA regulations, and Planned Parenthood? The Islamic refugee issue is no different. They have no intention of actually stopping it, despite the fact that they could destroy the Democrats in the upcoming election on this issue alone. They will pass phony legislation, but will never defund it.
Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX)—who told Breitbart News separately that he would support a reducing visa issuances to Muslim countries—has said that a show vote would be unacceptable.
“The last thing we need is a show vote,” Babin said. “As an elected official I swore an oath to protect the safety and security of the American people. Now is the time for the House to lead and stop this reckless refugee program. I will fight with every fiber of my body to stop the President’s plan. We cannot allow this to happen on our watch and anything that fails to have real teeth should be rejected.”
Sessions and his Alabama colleague Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, have similarly declared that if Congress wants to represent and protect the American people, it must use the power of the purse to stop the refugee resettlement program.
“As Chairmen of Subcommittees on both the Appropriations and Judiciary Committees, we believe it is essential that any government funding bill cancel the President’s blank check for refugee resettlement… Right now, our refugee program – like all of our visa programs – runs on autopilot,” Sessions and Shelby said. “Each year, millions of visas go out the door without any input or action from Congress. We would not accept this policy for the federal budget, and we should not accept it for immigration. We therefore urge the inclusion of a provision in any omnibus spending bill that makes it absolutely clear that no refugee resettlement will take place without a separate, affirmative Congressional vote to authorize any resettlement and offset its huge costs…In order to carry out his plans, the President needs the annual appropriation for the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement and other budget items. Congress therefore, through its spending power, can block the President’s plans. Absent such restrictions, the omnibus spending bill will give the President all the funds he needs to carry out the resettlement of nearly 100,000 refugees this year alone. First and foremost, this is a question of appropriations.”