by Moses Apsan, Esq.
Washington D.C. - It was unprecedented and unexpected. Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele promised publicly, support of comprehensive immigration reform and pledged to work towards getting additional Senate Republicans to join Senators Graham(D-NY) and Lindsey(R-SC) in passing their bi-partisan immigration reform legislation. They were meeting with immigration reform advocates shortly after immigration advocates staged a noisy sit-in at the R.N.C. offices.
After the meeting advocates came out and said that: Mr. Steele had pledged to help find at least one more Republican sponsor for a bill being crafted by Senator Lindsey O. Graham, The advocates “walked away with a commitment from Steele to work with Sen. Lindsey Graham and the party’s leadership to enlist another Republican senator’s support for comprehensive and bipartisan immigration reform,” the leaders of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement said in a statement. The movement is a coalition of groups that support a path to legal status for illegal immigrants.
Fair Immigration Reform Movement, a coalition of pro-immigration organizations, put out a press release regarding the meeting saying:
"We are encouraged by this first step," said Pramila Jayapal, executive director of OneAmerica, and meeting participant. "Chairman Steele clearly understands that the future of the Republican Party is dim if his party continues to play politics with immigration reform rather than come to the table to work on practical solutions to our broken immigration system. But now we need to see if Republicans will deliver additional cosponsors on the bill before April 30."
(Before "the ink dried," one of Steel's spokesperson, Doug Heye, took a different view of the Chairman's statement to the advocates and in essence it was retracted). According to The Wall Street Journal when “[a]sked about the statement, RNC spokesman Heye said ‘none of it is right’ and explained that the meeting was an opportunity to discuss the GOP’s ’strong support of legal immigration’…’Any claim that the RNC made any policy commitments is a clear misrepresentation,’ Heye said in an email.
How will the republican leadership's immigration ambivalence affect the vote in November? Will the republican party be seen as an enemy or a friend of the 12 million plus families "yearning to be free"? Will they become a solution to the broken immigration system or will they become just part of the never-ending drama? Many Republican leaders know that America is in desperate need of major changes in it's immigration system; a system that is shattered and only comprehensive immigration reform can close these open wounds and let the country begin healing.
Not every Republican would change their platform as quickly as Chairman Michael Steele, Some Republicans have the courage and will power to do what's right for the America. Senator Lindsey Graham is that person. He, a sole republican, has taken the lead and jointly sponsored immigration reform legislation that may contain substantially everything needed to get through congress and on to the president's desk. Graham joins the ranks of other Republican leaders such as President Ronald Reagan, President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain (R-AZ. These republicans have been at the forefront in the battle to reform our broken immigration system. Recently, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, former Immigration and Customs Enforcement head Julie Myers, and current members of Congress such as Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), have joined the ranks of pro comprehensive immigration reform republicans.
All Americans want leaders that keep their word. Republican Steele may find that difficult. He does/does not approve of immigration reform. Only he can correct the impression created. These incidents could negatively impact on the credibility of the republican party. Only with bipartisan support for comprehensive immigration reform will, not only the "huddled masses" of the 12 million immigrants living in our shadow re - start their lives, but so would all members of Congress that supported the reform find their political lives re-energized. Our future just as our past rely on the diversity of immigrants that become a piece of the mosaic called the United States of America,