In an exclusive interview with The Federalist, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus had some strong words for President Obama’s immigration maneuvering.
In the interview, Priebus made clear that, after the push for comprehensive immigration reform failed to gain traction in the Senate and the president engaged in a drawn-out political game over migrants at the border, it now seems unlikely that any such reform can be achieved during the Obama presidency.
The Federalist asked Priebus if he thought the president could actually have any kind of negotiation with Republicans on the immigration issue or if he thought it was a lost cause. In short, could Obama be trusted to be a fair bargainer?
“I don’t think so,” Priebus said.
Priebus accused the White House of lying to the American Hispanic community, engaging in unconstitutional activities, and using the plight of immigrants to his advantage.
“Speaking for myself, I think that [President Obama] is totally untrustworthy and he has played games with people from the very beginning on this issue,” Priebus said. “I don’t agree with anything that he’s talked about in regard to him sending illegal executive orders, which are obviously unconstitutional.”
“What he is doing to certain people in the Hispanic community is flat-out lying to people, using people for his political advantage,” Priebus told The Federalist. “Making up ridiculous constitutional arguments that he as a law professor should know better, then, pulling back on those promises only to then say, ‘Well, I’m going to do it after the election,’ to then use people again for this upcoming election.”
In the wake of the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee engaged in a lengthy and thorough examination of all the elements that had led to their failure to unseat President Obama or take the U.S. Senate. The Growth and Opportunity Project contained many prescriptions, but one of the most prominent was an advocacy for the Republican Party to be more inclusive, particularly on the subject of immigration. As reported at the time, “While the document, the result of a three-month listening tour, is intended to focus on strategy, the group made one major foray into policy. If Republicans want to reach Hispanic voters, the authors say, the party ‘must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform.'” The RNC Chairman echoed this call personally at the time, as did a host of other GOP leaders in Washington.
Priebus now seems less hopeful that an immigration bargain can be struck.
“At some point, people have to just look at this person and say, ‘Listen. Your greatest talent is that you love to campaign and at times you have been very good at campaigning, but now we know what you are which is someone who is willing to lie, someone who is willing to be a hypocrite, and someone who is willing to threaten to break the law in spite of being the president of the United States.'”
While some have teased the possibility of a lame-duck bargain with the White House, Priebus was pessimistic about the possibility of any good-faith negotiation on the subject with the president. Instead, Priebus maintained that the border must be secured and verified as such prior to any negotiated reform.
“I think it puts the Republicans and any reasonable Democrat, perhaps, in a very difficult position to then move forward and negotiate a deal with the president on something like that,” said Priebus. “I think the only way you can move forward, and the president and other Democrats should recognize this, if they really want to have immigration reform, then they ought to find a way to verify and guarantee that the border is secure.”
“If they wanted to really reform immigration, they would understand that that’s the first step in making sure that they can move forward,” added Priebus. “Until that happens, it’s all just a big ruse, the whole thing, beginning to end.”