At an event to celebrate “rising stars” in the Republican party on Thursday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus gave a strong condemnation of one of the GOP’s fallen stars — the idea of “self deportation.”
Addressing recent remarks by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who has made a name for himself as one of the most vocal opponents of immigration reform, Priebus trashed the term “self-deport,” the idea that if the American system became exceedingly inhospitable to undocumented people, they would leave. Instead, according to Business Insider, Priebus said that the term is “horrific”:
“Using the word ‘self-deportation’ — it’s a horrific comment to make,” Priebus said, in a forceful rebuke. “I don’t think it has anything to do with our party. When a candidate makes those comments, obviously, it hurts us.”
The shift away from the term must be a recent development for Priebus. Indeed, as Steve Benen points out, Priebus helped to pass the GOP party platform, which called for, “tough border enforcement and opposing ‘any forms of amnesty’ for illegal immigrants, instead endorsing ‘humane procedures to encourage illegal aliens to return home voluntarily,’ a policy of self-deportation.”
Priebus is right to start embracing more favorable language about the undocumented. The country largely supports more sympathetic language toward immigrants, embracing “undocumented” over “illegal alien.” Unfortunately, a change of language won’t get a bill passed. And while Priebus may be quick to denounce the term “self-deportation” as racist, his party has been incredibly slow to embrace the reform effort that passed the Senate earlier this year, even though most Republicans in the country support it.
This post has been updated to reflect the fact that Priebus did not say “racist,” as Business Insider originally reported. He said, “hurt us.”