April 26th, 2010
09:28 AM ET
11 years ago

Steele talks immigration policy in meeting with Hispanic activists

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/08/art.steelernc.gi.jpg caption="Steele told a private gathering of Hispanic activists that Republicans should put forth an immigration plan that puts families first."]Washington (CNN) - 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.

The RNC chairman made the comments in Washington on Friday, shortly after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer enacted the controversial law, which requires police to question people suspected of being in the country illegally. Critics of the law argue that it will lead to racial profiling and civil rights violations.

An activist present at the meeting recorded a video clip of the party chairman’s speech and showed it to CNN.

“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.”

Congress needs to realize that immigration policies crafted in Washington have a real world impact on families and workers “trying to pursue a dream,” he said.

The outreach session between RNC officials and Hispanic GOP activists had been previously scheduled, but happened to fall on the same day Brewer announced her support for the Arizona immigration bill. According to the person in the room, the activists were shocked upon learning that Brewer had enacted the law.

Steele spoke to the group moments later and addressed their concerns.

Though he did not go into much detail about the Arizona bill in the video clip, Steele said Hispanics are right to be worried about the potential for racial profiling.

“As someone who has been the victim of racial profiling, there must be a necessary sensitivity to that issue,” he said. “And understanding that any perception of racism in law becomes racism in fact for the individual who is the subject of that law. And so that is an important aspect of this law as well that I know our leadership is very, very sensitive to.”

Steele said the Obama administration is more interested in “playing politics” with immigration policy, and suggested that GOP ideas for immigration reform are coming soon. “I think that you will see and hear something very different in the weeks ahead that will you show you where we stand with Hispanics in the country,” he said.

Asked about the video, a spokesman for the RNC sought to clarify Steele’s comments.

“Chairman Steele has consistently supported immigration legislation that focused on doing the basics first - namely, securing our borders, protecting our economy and treating people with human dignity,” RNC spokesman Doug Heye told CNN on Monday.

Heye said Steele “agrees with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer that we must take strong stand against both illegal immigration and racial profiling. Doing so will help ensure that any policies we make are implemented in a fashion that reflects our American values.”

“Any federal legislation is going to be complex and go through many changes,” he added. “Our Republican leaders are very focused on making sure any legislation have elements that protect both our American values and honors families.”


Filed under: Immigration • Michael Steele
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Your party doesn't listen to you Mikey. Maybe you didn't notice that the governor of Arizona is a republican. Did she run this past you before she signed it into law? I smell some hypocrisy going on. All I hear republicans talking about is securing the border first. Well how the heck do you plan on doing that? If it could've and should've been done, then why hasn't it been done already?

    April 26, 2010 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I hope Arizona has enough money for all the lawsuits that will be filed. Don't come asking the federal government for money when the amount of lawsuits become overwhelming for the state to pay. You've done it to yourself.

    April 26, 2010 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  3. haren

    Mr. Steele If you have any principal, you should resign from your post when a republican governor of your party signed a racial profiling bill.
    And to all Spanish speaking voters vote for democrats like African American voters who side with democrats 90% time.

    April 26, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  4. Carmelle

    Really Steele? So does that mean the next bill this year should be immigration? Interesting...coming from you.

    what an idiot. he's about walk that back real soon!

    April 26, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  5. nick

    Time and again the GOP tries to lie itself into the hearts of caring descent people by saying that they are all for and all about involving the masses in their party; yet, time and again they show by their actions that they are the Party of exclusion and priveledge. So if you are not a WASP, look out cause the GOP gulag is waiting to get you!

    April 26, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  6. A. Goodwin

    I know exactly how this is going to go. Dems are all ready working on this and are expected to come out with proposed legislation soon. The GOP will take a look at the legislation and deem it unacceptable because elements of the bill will not be 100% of what THEY want (unless big corporate funds are not being siphoned to the richest of the rich...GOP will deem it as being "bad for the country"...even though it has little to do with coporations). Then the GOP will try to block the bill and say this is bad for the country...and then the Dems will just push it through since GOP is worthless and unhelpful to the process. You heard it here...

    April 26, 2010 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  7. Ben in Texas

    Wouldn't you hate being in Steele's shoes? Imagine being the obvious token African American in the Repugnant leadership addressing representatives of the fastest growing voting block in the country, and you have to explain why Repugnants are backing thinly veiled racist laws against that block.

    He's a sell-out trying to convince others to sell out. That's what's known as a hard sell.

    April 26, 2010 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  8. marc

    Non sense with all this talking point

    April 26, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  9. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    I beleave the people of this country have lost faith in the federal government to take illegal's by the horns in a replay of Arizona is going take suit with all states .

    April 26, 2010 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  10. Pam, Eugene, OR

    Yet again, there is no plan for the GOP on immigration,. Just plain NO.
    No plans No ideas. No comment!.

    April 26, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  11. Anonymous

    Reform for liberals = amnesty= votes. One defination of reform is beneficial change. Whats good for illegals is bad for America. Right now only 47% of working Americans pay federal income tax. If Obozo makes the 12 million illegals, citizens it will just increase the number of people not paying federal income tax. What is the cost of adding 12 million people to Obozo's new health care entitlement program. I understand why illegals what to be here, but we do not need millions more poor people many of whom don't speak English. The other 49 states need to follow Arizonia's example.

    April 26, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  12. Mike in NYC

    You put in a 'bro to appeal to a practically non-existent black Republican vote, and this is what you get. The GOP's base needs to get its act in gear and throw this POS out now.

    Steele should be honest about where his heart really is, and join Reverend Al when he comes to Phoenix to fight the good fight.

    April 26, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  13. Hawk in texas

    Steele you lie.

    April 26, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  14. Steele: you're still here?

    you are trully a dems best friend, even Palin knew when it was time to go, and she is a moron

    does that make you worse than a moron?

    April 26, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  15. SOUTHERN

    Empty rhetoric.
    No ideas.
    Utterly clueless.
    Whom does the GOP think it's fooling?

    April 26, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  16. mother in pa

    Why not emphasize our laws and how to enter this country legally?

    April 26, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  17. rkm63

    The legal residents and their families should come first, they deserve to live in a safe, secure and peaceful environment. They don't need the gang bangers, kidnappers, human smugglers, rapists or drug dealers. The governor is enforcing the law, nothing wrong with that.

    April 26, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  18. Limbaugh is a liberal

    I think the republicans should listen to Steele and follow his words... His confused, self-contradictory, dishonest, hypocritic, and idiotic words. It will make it easier for democrats to win the elections.

    Yeah, Steele... now there's a real winner! Winning the award for fastest turnaround on all his words in all of American history!

    April 26, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  19. pantsonfire

    Steele – You're a liar and a sell out.

    April 26, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  20. chris tx

    "suspected of being in the country illegally." – Mr. Steele, do you cary your birth certificate with you at all times? I suspect you might not be from the USA... maybe you're from Africa.

    See how ridiculous the AZ law is? See how profiling works?

    April 26, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  21. Nelgzz

    They should make a law for the family base immigration first while securing the borders

    April 26, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  22. Anonymous

    "and suggested that GOP ideas for immigration reform are coming soon"

    Yeah. Just like your healthcare and climate policy. Someone please tell Steele and the GOP to stop talking and do BLEEPING something.

    April 26, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  23. Nelson, Colorado Springs Co

    The new immigration bill in Arizona is tough but it can be done fairly. Question does this new immigration bill apply only to traffic stop or people just walking down the street.?????? But in the end it could lead to racial profiling and civil rights violations.

    April 26, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  24. Capt. Snarky

    NO AMNESTY! If they want to immigrate, that's fine. We have a LEGALLY proscribed proceedure for doing so. FOLLOW IT! Otherwise, you will face deportation.

    April 26, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  25. DennisK

    Michael Steele always seems to be at odds with the radical conservative agenda of the GOP... doesn't he know what party he's in?

    April 26, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
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