Vaughn Ward was not highly impressed with state Rep. Raul Labrador's, R-Eagle, speech Tuesday at the Capitol in Boise. In the speech, Labrador, who is vying with Ward for the Republican nomination to face Democratic incumbent Walt Minnick in Idaho's 1st Congressional District, said that Ward may be using his ethnic heritage against him in the campaign. Ward's staffers think the claim is out-of-line.
In a prepared statement to the press, Labrador accused Ward's campaign of misrepresenting his stance on immigration. "Mr. Ward’s campaign is using innuendo to suggest that I can’t be trusted to properly address the issue of illegal immigration. He is hoping, it seems, to appeal to the darkest recesses of the human soul by taking cheap advantage of my work in immigration law and maybe even my ethnic heritage." Labrador, who was born in Puerto Rico, which is a commonwealth of the United States, works as an immigration lawyer. Labrador has argued in the past that his experience and work as an attorney in that field makes him uniquely qualified to work on immigration issues.
When questioned about the evidence he might have that the Ward campaign is bringing race into the campaign, Labrador said that he has received numerous e-mails from Ward supporters saying that he (Labrador) will not do anything about immigration because of his Puerto Rican heritage. He did not have copies of the e-mails available, but said that if he could find them he would release them to the public.
Ryan O'Barto, spokesman for the Ward camp, said that Labrador's comments were totally off the mark. "I think it's simply an outlandish claim," said O'Barto. "I think he is deflecting from his real stance on immigration. He has been soft on immigration here in Idaho." O'Barto added that Idaho families should look closely at Labrador and his record to see if they can trust him on the issue.
Ward's strategy for securing the borders is very similar to Labrador's. O'Barto said that the first thing the nation needs to do is to secure the border and then enforce immigration laws that are already on the books. He also explained that Ward would oppose granting amnesty to those here illegally. Ward, in a statement released early Tuesday, said securing the borders is of utmost importance for the future of the nation. "Stopping the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States is critical to our economy and our national security. We also must oppose amnesty for illegal aliens to make it clear that those who break our nation’s laws will not be rewarded,” said Ward.
Labrador, during his press conference Tuesday, outlined his own solutions for immigration problems. First, federal officials must enforce immigration law that is already on the books. ”It is already unlawful for any foreigner to be in the United States without proper documentation,” said Labrador. Second, in order to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the states, Labrador advocated doing all within the power of government to secure the border and called on President Obama to send soldiers there to aid the process. ”I advocate sending the military to the border to battle the criminals terrorizing our border towns just like they are battling Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. The military should provide serious firepower and backup to our border patrol agents.” Finally, he called for reform of guest worker programs to expedite entry for those who wish to come to America to work. ”We need to greatly streamline our guest worker program while making sure American workers are protected against the in-flow of cheap labor,” said Labrador.
Ward and Labrador will square off in a debate, set to be broadcast over Idaho Public Television, on May 11.