Steele: GOP immigration policy has to be family-based

posted at 2:20 pm on April 26, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

CNN’s Peter Hamby reports that RNC chair Michael Steele called for a comprehensive immigration reform effort from Republicans in a private meeting with Hispanic Republicans last Friday.   Using video taken of the speech by an attendee, Hamby notes that Steele emphasized the need for the GOP to prioritize families in its policies, a position that would put Steele at odds with many conservative Republicans:

In a private meeting with Hispanic Republican activists last week, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele called for a comprehensive immigration policy that puts families first – a stance at odds with some conservatives in his party who see border security and enforcement as top priorities.

Steele also said Republican leaders are sensitive to “the perception of racism in law” following the signing of a tough new immigration bill in Arizona. …

“If we want to have a comprehensive policy that is uniform around the nation, then the federal government has got to step up,” Steele told the activists. “I look forward to our Republican leadership putting on the table good solid efforts to create the kind of reform that takes in mind first and foremost the family, that recognizes that this is not a nameless composition.

“That there are moms and dads, grandmas and granddads, and children, generations, that are affected by the decisions that are made in Washington D.C.,” he continued. “So my promise is to make sure that that the family is the focus as well. Not the just the statistics that show up on paper.”

In one sense, Steele has to frame the argument in a way that appeals to a broad range of potential voters. That’s his job, after all, and Steele didn’t mention any policy specifics in this speech. He wants Hispanics to stay within the GOP, which was the entire intent of the meeting. Steele promised that the Republicans would offer their version of comprehensive immigration reform soon, and that it would differentiate itself from the nakedly political gambit offered by Barack Obama and the Democrats in this midterm cycle.

Still, one has to suspect that Steele held that meeting in private for good reason. He’s already created enough problems for himself with the activist conservative base of the party, which wants an enforcement-first approach to immigration reform. It’s possible to both enforce the law and be sensitive to families, but the priority for conservatives is enforcement of border security and visa controls now. Flipping those won’t endear Steele to the base, and could backfire on his outreach efforts.

Meanwhile, Rasmussen polled on the most explosive aspect of the Arizona legislation, and found it less controversial than thought among likely voters:

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer last week signed a new law into effect that authorizes local police to stop and verify the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant. A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that 60% of voters nationwide favor such a law, while 31% are opposed.

Seventy-seven percent (77%) of Republicans support the law along with 62% of voters not affiliated with either major party. Democratic voters are evenly divided on the measure.

At the same time, however, 58% of all voters are at least somewhat concerned that “efforts to identify and deport illegal immigrants will also end up violating the civil rights of some U.S. citizens.” That figure includes 29% who are Very Concerned about possible civil rights violations.

In other words, the takeaway here is that Americans want a tougher approach to enforcement as long as it doesn’t violate civil rights. That’s about as surprising as “water is wet.” Immigration reform is somewhat like ObamaCare — it’s designed to appeal to a narrow base, not the overall electorate. In a bad economy, a push for liberalization of immigration controls is about as popular as higher taxes, and for similar reasons.

What may be surprising is the widespread consensus on these questions.  Voters believe that national security and border control take priority over fixing the status of “undocumented workers,” whether they be Republicans (77%), independents (78%), or … Democrats (51%/38%).  On giving the police authority to stop people on the basis of suspected immigration violations, as many Democrats support it as oppose it (43% each), while 62% of independents also back it.  Black voters, whom Michael Steele invoked as regular victims of profiling, support the idea of police stops 63%/33%.  “Other,” comprising Hispanic and Asian voters, only narrowly oppose it, 44% with 38% approving.

This seems like something approaching political consensus.  We shouldn’t be afraid of pushing an enforcement-first agenda, as long as we make sure that civil rights get protected.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Because it would have meant some people might have had to wait 2 weeks before buying a concealable firearm.

Why are you trying to change the subject? I’m opposed to a 2 week waiting period, but if it actually solved a huge problem (without creating an even worse one, which it does), then it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Carrying an ID doesn’t take 2 weeks though. It doesn’t take much effort at all. Most people carry an ID almost all of the time.

Is your point that we can never enforce immigration laws if it means some non-illegals might someday be asked for an ID? Because that seems to be the original commenter’s point.

It seems to be OK for cops to ask me for ID. Why is that? Is it because I have the wrong skin color? If my skin were darker, then I guess I could be protected from this requirement?

Kohath on April 26, 2010 at 4:39 PM

I am sure someone has already said this but I saying it anyway. Stop the flow of illegals and then we will talk about all those sweet things we need to do for the children.

Cindy Munford on April 26, 2010 at 4:41 PM

How about protecting the rights of that old AZ rancher who got whacked on his own property?

Whoops, I forgot, he’s dead. Forget him. Let’s move on.

Why can’t we all just get along?
Huh one a two a three: Cum bah yah..everybody sing

jarhead0311 on April 26, 2010 at 4:43 PM

Mr. Steele, just resign and go lobby somewhere, you’re doing no good

TheAudacityofNOPE on April 26, 2010 at 4:44 PM

Steele should resign.

Why he’s still around I have no idea…

Conservative Samizdat on April 26, 2010 at 4:55 PM

Arizona just following the Federal law and redoing it as a state law.

Col.John Wm. Reed on April 26, 2010 at 4:35 PM

Look at the irony here:

1. Cities and counties in USA passed ” sanctuary” laws to favor illegal and shield illegal alien criminals exclusively. States blessed the ” sanctuary” jurisdictions.

2. Although ” sanctuary” jurisdictions were illegal and downright criminal against American victims of crime, no one challanged ” sactuary” laws. NO ONE

3. Now AZ passed a law which says they don’t want to be a
” sanctuary ” anymore and NOW its illegal.

So when cities and counties and states go out and tell their LE agencies to BREAK and openly DISOBEY a fed law,to favor criminals and fugitives , its not even challanged.
When a state says they want to follow the fed law , its illegal, immoral and racist ? When a state says that they will no longer PUNISH their LE agencies for following the law , it goes against basic fairness?
Fairness towards whom ?

macncheez on April 26, 2010 at 4:55 PM

…and I bet you sit in a pew every Sunday and pray to your God. Hypocrite.

You would be wrong. Bigot. Thief. Parasite.

Kohath on April 26, 2010 at 5:00 PM

Sure, just deport the whole family, the ones that really want to be here can reapply and come back. Damn, those “Easy Buttons” are great at this difficult issues.

rgranger on April 26, 2010 at 5:06 PM

Once again, Steele and the republicans, have missed the point; this is about illegal immigration, nothing about the family or any other sh!t – just getting rid of people who are here illegally!

I swear, are these people so stuck on stupid that they are no brain dead? No Amnesty, more more deficit spending, reduce the size of government. Is it really that hard to understand?

jackal40 on April 26, 2010 at 5:11 PM

…and I bet you sit in a pew every Sunday and pray to your God. Hypocrite.

Grow Fins on April 26, 2010 at 4:26 PM

You’re another one that makes weird posts…sit in a pew and pray to your God, Hypocrite….nope even typed it and it still doesn’t make a bit of sense.
The liberal mind is just so strange…so bizarre…I can see why you voted for Obama…

right2bright on April 26, 2010 at 5:18 PM

I am sure someone has already said this but I saying it anyway. Stop the flow of illegals and then we will talk about all those sweet things we need to do for the children.

Cindy Munford on April 26, 2010 at 4:41 PM

Can’t make logical statements enough…
You can bail as fast as you can, but it is much easier after you plug the hole.

right2bright on April 26, 2010 at 5:19 PM

“GOP immigration policy has to be family-based.”

Wrong! It needs to be secured borders based. Period!

GFW on April 26, 2010 at 5:40 PM

Awesome; we’ll try amnesty first and border control second. Why not?

It’ll surely work. Like in 1965, we adopted amnesty, promised to control the border to end the problem for all time. All time ended so we had to do the same thing again in 1986; but they promised to secure the border again to solve the problem for all time once the amnesty passed.

And here we are again? Well it failed miserably twice; why would we do something different? Clearly we need to repeat this failed solution every 20-30 years until the end of time because we can’t figure out the correct way to solve the problem.

If you look for solutions that work, you shouldn’t be in politics I guess.

gekkobear on April 26, 2010 at 5:47 PM

“How about protecting the rights of that old AZ rancher who got whacked on his own property.”

hE WAS A “typical white guy,” not important. Time to move on.

bw222 on April 26, 2010 at 6:23 PM

…and I bet you sit in a pew every Sunday and pray to your God. Hypocrite.

Grow Fins on April 26, 2010 at 4:26 PM

Now, the village idiot is making moral judegments about others.

bw222 on April 26, 2010 at 6:25 PM

Family first?

Really?
How about, if you are here illegally…as in Breaking the Law….you lose custody of your children and you are thrown out of the country. You aren’t fit to raise a child and have a ‘family’. Family first?
Really? Teach kids to lie, cheat and steal, evade policemen…

People need to realize that the laws also protect the immigrant! Follow the damn law like millions of others have.
Family first…geez

bridgetown on April 26, 2010 at 6:40 PM

How about all that VIOLENCE and VANDALISM down there in AZ from all those opposed to the bill?!

Paging Bill Clinton … Paging Mr. Demagogue.

HondaV65 on April 26, 2010 at 7:29 PM

We shouldn’t be afraid of pushing an enforcement-first agenda, as long as we make sure that civil rights get protected.

Ed you are a clueless and pandering fool……see ya!

dmann on April 26, 2010 at 8:09 PM

The illegals stole citizenship for their children fair and square. You can’t blame them for gaming the system that is so easily gamed. I wish that it wasn’t so but it’s the way the current laws are. <—– We need to fix this asap. btw… imho the kids can stay but the parents cannot…. nuff said.

whiskeytango on April 26, 2010 at 8:18 PM

It appears that Steele has drunk too much of the Washington kool-aid!!!

Steele is making absolutely no sense at all. The issue is NOT “families”, it is LAWBREAKERS. Do we let bank robbers off if they bring their families with them to rob the bank???

This is why I’m completely bypassing the RNC and supporting Conservatives directly. Until the RNC can figure out what it should be doing, it is a totally useless organization….except to Democrats.

landlines on April 27, 2010 at 2:46 AM

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