Michael Steele: doublespeak on immigration "reform" and amnesty
Michael Steele is the new chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC). On tonight's PBS NewsHour, David Brooks said he'll probably avoid "anti-immigrant" talk, and we know what that means: Brooks thinks Steele will support illegal activity. While Steele's exact positions remain to be seen, consider the June 14, 2007 article "Secure the border first" (link). "Securing the border" is generally a dodge, see the link. And, although he was opposed to 2007's comprehensive immigration reform bill, the "first" leaves an opening for some form of amnesty after the border is supposedly secured. Note that the five points listed at the Townhall link were almost all more or less included in the CIR bill and that Steele's position seems to be similar to that of John McCain.
That's driven home by this December 16, 2008 interview:
...The same [problem with a hole in a boat] is true with immigration. The core problem is that you've got a hole in the fence. Plug the hole. Use technology, use manpower, use all the strategies that you need to secure the national borders of this country. And then we can talk about the 12 million people who are here illegally, what we’re going to do. I think America will be much more receptive to that conversation knowing that no more are coming in and that the hole has been closed. And then we can deal effectively with the water in the boat.
Highly possible translation: after the borders are secure, Americans can be convinced to accept an amnesty. Asked about what he'd do about the 12 million (or so), he said:
Well, that’s something for the national debate. There are any number of ways that you have to deal with that. Do you want to create a pathway to citizenship? Are you talking amnesty? Ronald Reagan did amnesty. He did the first amnesty bill. A lot of people tend to forget that. In 1986, what was the problem? There was no effective strategy to deal with what? The hole in the fence. They kept coming. And 20 years later, what are we looking at? 12 million additional people, the hole has gotten bigger, and the problem hasn’t gone away. America’s response to amnesty was, ‘Not again, if you don’t fix the hole. If you don’t close down that border and make sure that no one else is getting over the fence, or under the fence, or through the fence.’ That’s what everyone sees as the problem. It’s not the individuals who are here, necessarily. It’s the ones who are still coming in, because our border is porous. Every other country protects its sovereignty, and no one cracks a peep. The United States rises up and says, ‘We too shall protect the sovereignty of this nation by protecting our borders,’ and everyone looks at us like we’re enemies of the state. Well, we’ll keep looking that way because we’re going to deal with this issue, and we’re going to effectively do what we need to do as Americans to make sure the integrity of this country, its internal integrity, is secure. And then we can talk about everything else. Everything else -- jobs, programs, employers -- all that stuff you can deal with much more effectively, because now you’re dealing with a smaller pool of folks because there are no more coming in.
Nothing in there would foreclose eventually giving an amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. Notably, Steele isn't supporting attrition in order to reduce the numbers of illegal aliens in the U.S. over time. He simply wants to stop the future flow, as did Fred Thompson before getting a clue.
I guess I should have taken a look at his record before he was elected, but it's never too late to encourage him to support attrition.
2/1/09 UPDATE: Chris Wallace interviewed him on Fox News Sunday and didn't ask the right questions about this issue, playing into the confusion over the positions of John McCain and George W Bush vs. the positions of those who want to "build the fence" (link). As discussed above, the latter position is a dodge used by McCain and Bush, when the ultimate goal is "reform". Steele didn't say anything to contradict that:
I think the GOP's position on immigration is very much the position of many, many Hispanics who are in this country... The GOP's position is secure our borders first. Let us know and let us make sure the American people know that we've taken care of the important business of dealing with illegal immigration into this country... You cannot begin to address the concerns of the people who are already here unless and until you have made certain that no more are coming in behind them... No change in the position on the party on that... [Leaders in the Hispanic community] understand the importance of making sure the United States' borders are secure.