When we heard that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus was set to announce a new set of principles that Republicans across the country could rally around, the initial thought was that it couldn't be worse than the Autopsy Report that the Party released shortly after the 2012 presidential elections. Back then, Priebus and the Party called on Republicans to embrace "comprehensive immigration reform" eventually leading to the bipartisan, but, thus-far, failed Gang of Eight amnesty bill. Instead, Priebus' speech indicated that Washington could be hearing the message about the impact of mass immigration on American workers.
Reince Priebus spoke today at George Washington University and outlined the RNC's 11 "Principles for American Renewal". Saving immigration for last, here's a look at what Priebus had to say:
Principle number eleven: We need an immigration system that secures our borders, upholds the law, and boosts our economy.
Border security must come first. The humanitarian crisis at the border made that clear.
Like most politicians, Priebus played it safe by starting with border security. In a time of increasing terror threats, an Ebola epidemic, and waves of illegal aliens crossing the Southwest border, you can't miss with "securing the border". On the other hand, we've heard the line so many times from Republicans and Democrats alike, the phrase has become utterly meaningless.
Unfortunately, Priebus failed to make any reference to interior enforcement, including the popular E-Verify system. The Obama Administration has dismantled nearly all immigration enforcement in the nation's interior, prompting his former acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement director, John Sandweg, to say "If you are a run-of-the-mill immigrant here illegally, your odds of getting deported are close to zero — it's just highly unlikely to happen." Just last week, the Associated Press reported that 70% of family members who were recently caught crossing the border illegally and relocated to the nation's interior are not showing up for their follow-up appointments with ICE agents. Priebus missed a big opportunity to hit Obama on this point.
Furthermore, his line about "boosts our economy" sets off an alarm. The phrase can mean different things to different people, which is probably why he used it. For the skeptics, immigration policy that "boosts our economy" usually means opening the flood gates for more cheap foreign labor.
The president’s plan to overlook the border crisis and act unilaterally to rewrite our immigration laws is unacceptable and unconstitutional. His plan to make further changes to the system after the election will only make any fix harder.
In recent months, Republicans have unified against Pres. Obama's plan to expand his Executive Amnesty after the mid-term elections to an estimated 5-6 million illegal aliens. In early-August, the House passed the Cruz/Blackburn bill, H.R. 5272, that would block funding for an executive amnesty, and last month, the Senate GOP caucus unanimously supported a motion offered by Sen. Jeff Sessions to bring the Cruz/Blackburn bill to the Senate floor for a vote.
Polls show that a large majority of Americans oppose Pres. Obama's plan to circumvent Congress and grant work permits to millions of illegal aliens, so it was a good move for Priebus used it to his advantage. He also pointed out that if the President moves forward with an executive action, it'll hurt the chances of any immigration reform moving through the next Congress.
As a nation of immigrants, we must fix our broken immigration system. We can’t reward those who break the laws and punish those who lawfully wait in line. Legal immigration has strengthened this country, and we want to continue that legacy and protect the American worker.
On the surface, it appeared that Priebus took an anti-amnesty position, but as we've learned through the years, "rewarding" illegal aliens is a subjective term. For some, it very simply means no amnesty. But many others say you're not "rewarding" illegal aliens if you force them to go through a background check, pay a fine, and wait a few years before receiving a green card. Which meaning Priebus referred to is up for debate.
His inclusion of protecting the "American worker", however, is a move in the right direction. In the Party's 2012 autopsy report, there was no mention of American workers in its discussion on immigration, but it appears that GOP Leaders are paying attention to what Sen. Sessions has been saying for years about the impacts of mass immigration on American workers. Also helpful is a recent poll conducted by Kellyanne Conway's "the polling company" that found that connecting immigration to jobs is a winning message for politicians.
Earlier this year, the GOP's top brass was pushing its caucus to accept a set of principles that included massive increases in legal immigration and an amnesty for millions of illegal aliens. The Party's leadership still has a long way to go if it wants to truly sound like Jeff Sessions, but the movement it has made in just nine months is still remarkable.
CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content & Activism for NumbersUSA
Updated: Thu, Oct 16th 2014 @ 4:20pm EDT