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Michael Steele Immigration Meeting Produced Pledge of Support- Before it Didn’t

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steeleHow’s that saying go: three steps forward, one step back?

I was looking forward to writing a post last week about RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s new forward-looking approach to dealing with immigration– before it evaporated, that is. Last Monday I had wondered aloud about whether the hard-won meeting with immigration reform advocates would still happen. Immediately afterward, the closed-door discussion was hailed as a key step forward for the GOP on immigration.

Wednesday night the Wonk Room’s Andrea Nill reported:

The Center for Community Change’s Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) released a statement this afternoon announcing that leaders from their group met with Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele to discuss the future of comprehensive immigration reform in the Republican Party. According to FIRM, advocates left the meeting with a “commitment from Steele to work with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and the party’s leadership to enlist another Republican senator’s support for comprehensive and bipartisan immigration reform.”

The RNC Chairman reportedly told advocates that he would help bring another Republican on board to work on comprehensive immigration reform, a move that would surely help to repair the GOP brand on immigration. Not even a day later, however, RNC spokespeople were busy roundly denying this:

Several advocates emerged from the closed-door session to say Mr. Steele had pledged to help find at least one more Republican sponsor for a bill being crafted by Senator Lindsey O. Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, and Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, a Democrat. […]

Mr. Steele “makes it a priority to meet with different grassroots activists who are concerned with the direction of our country,” Mr. Heye wrote in an e-mail. “Today’s meeting was meant as an opportunity to listen to concerns and discuss the Republican Party’s strong support of legal immigration.

“Any claim that the RNC made any policy commitments is a clear misrepresentation,” Mr. Heye said.