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Eye On Boise

National lower-immigration group rates both Minnick, Labrador as ‘true reformers’

A national group that supports curbs on immigration has weighed in on Idaho's 1st CD race, the AP reports, and declared both Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick and his Republican challenger Raul Labrador "true reformers." Click below to read the full report from AP reporter Jessie Bonner.

Idaho's Minnick earns 'B' grade on immigration
By JESSIE L. BONNER, Associated Press Writer

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A national group that supports curbs on immigration has weighed in on Idaho's 1st Congressional District race, calling both Democratic U.S. Rep Walt Minnick and his Republican challenger "true reformers."

NumbersUSA reports both Minnick and state lawmaker Raul Labrador won the label after filling out the group's 12-question survey on immigration. The issue has become a centerpiece of the congressional race, with Minnick's campign launching TV and radio ads targeted at Labrador's work as an immigration attorney.

The Arlington, Va.-based group also gave Minnick a B grade based on his voting record in the U.S. House. Minnick would have earned an A had he shown more leadership on immigration-related legislation, NumbersUSA president Roy Beck said.

"All of his votes have been right, as far as we're concerned," Beck said.

The group did not give Labrador a grade because he doesn't have a record in federal office.

On the survey, Minnick and Labrador agreed on all but one of the 12 questions.

Minnick said he wouldn't support a move by Congress to deny automatic U.S. citizenship to children born to undocumented persons. Labrador did not take a position on the question, though he has said in the past that he would not support changes to the 14th amendment, which guarantees citizenship for those born on U.S. soil.

The Minnick campaign said Labrador appears to be deliberately vague on his position, but Labrador spokesman Phil Hardy said that's not the case. The survey asked candidates to mark "yes" or "no" or "not taking a position" and did not give Labrador room to fully explain his stance on the issue, Hardy said.

"That's why Raul hates surveys that reduce politics to yes/no questions," Hardy said. "Politics often involve complex issues that are not well-served by yes/no surveys."

During an August 19 interview on KBOI radio, Labrador explained his position when asked about the "anchor babies" issue. The term, considered derogatory by some, is a reference to children born to at least one illegal immigrant parent.

"You don't have to repeal or change the 14th amendment to fix this issue," Labrador said. "We can go through the legislative process and sort of define who becomes a citizen."

Hardy said that Minnick is the one who is being inconsistent on immigration.

On the survey, both Minnick and Labrador said they oppose offering the estimated 11 million people living illegally in America long-term work permits and/or a path to citizenship.

Hardy provided audio of Minnick speaking at a meeting of the Boise Young Professionals in April 2009.

At the meeting, Minnick said he would require people living in the country illegally to come out of the shadows, and proposed a system that would appoint immigration magistrates to consider each case.

"If a person had a job, if they'd kept their nose clean, if they were good citizens, I would have that magistrate assess an appropriate penalty, and it might well be monetary, and put them in the back of the line for legal immigration. I wouldn't send them home," Minnick said during the meeting.

"I think it's quite a practical way of dealing with the problem of 12 million people who are here illegally."

While Labrador's campaign said this comment amounts to support for amnesty, Minnick's campaign disagreed and said he has always supported punishment for people who commit the crime of illegal immigration.

Minnick "has been consistent in saying the country needs a workable solution to this problem," Minnick campaign manager John Foster said. "That includes tough penalties for those who have violated our laws."




Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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