Rep. Labrador: Syria, fiscal fights could delay immigration reform

The congressional debates over Syria and fiscal issues are quickly shrinking the window in the House to pass immigration reform this year, said Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), a key Republican voice on immigration.

Labrador said in an interview on Univision’s “Al Punto,” set to air Sunday, that the window for immigration is coming “a lot shorter,” and failing to do so this year could push it out to 2015 because of the midterms.

“I think that if we don’t do it now, in 2013, it’s not going to be — it’s not going to happen in 2014,” Labrador said. “And that means that we’re going to have to wait until 2015. So now, that time is — it’s becoming a lot shorter. We don’t know exactly when we’re going to be able to have this debate.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in his legislative agenda to members on Friday that the House “may begin considering” immigration bills this fall.

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“Before we consider any other reforms, it is important that we pass legislation securing our borders and providing enforcement mechanisms to our law enforcement officials,” Cantor said.

But the House’s piecemeal approach to immigration reform could quickly run out of time amid a jam-packed session in which Congress must tackle the conflict in Syria, funding the government in 2014 and raising the debt ceiling.

Labrador, who is not a member of leadership but has been a Republican point man on the issue, did not offer an optimistic view that the House would find the time to tackle the issue.

“A lot of us thought that the debate was going to be in October, but now, with the problems that we’re having internationally and also here in this country, I don’t see how we’re going to be able to have this debate until November,” he said. “And I really don’t know if it will be possible to do it in November.”