The Reagan Amnesty Vs. The Bush Amnesty

Here’s a message I received in my MySpace account,


I love your site but I noticed that you have Ronald Reagan as one of your heros. Haven’t you heard of the 1986 Big Treason of the American People? That was the year that RR sold out all of us who live under the flag legally but giving amnesty to over 3 million invaders, mainly from Mexico. He went along with the all the usual suspects: Ted Kennedy etc. and when the Dems didn’t follow through on the Border Security amendment to the bill (why should they when they know they’re dealing with the sell out stupid party) RR never said ‘word one’.

I don’t want to be confrontational but I am so tired of these traitors being touted as our ‘Conservative Heros’. If you want ‘a few good men’ try Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo to name two (at this point I’m hard pressed to actually make it a few good men so I have to leave it at two)”

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People have to understand something: even though the amnesty that occurred in 1986 is similar to the one they’re trying to foist on us today in most respect, there were two key differences.

#1) In 1986, they didn’t have the complete and utter failure of the 1986 amnesty to use as a guide. In other words, the idea of an amnesty may have seemed reasonable back then, but what we’ve learned from its failure is that if you put a bill together than promises amnesty and border security, you get the amnesty, but you don’t get the border security.

#2) The number of illegals in the United States was much smaller back then. At the time, we had 2-3 million illegals here as opposed to the 12-20 million we have here today. So, it may have been just as bad of an idea in principle back then as it is today, but because the numbers were so much smaller, it made it easier to compromise.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that we don’t really know what position Reagan would take on this immigration bill if he were alive today. Some people might think that he would favor it, but my guess is that he’d say that, “We’ve already had a ‘one time’ amnesty and so we shouldn’t have another.”

That’s certainly the position that Ed Meese, Reagan’s attorney general, says Reagan would take if he were around today,

“I was attorney general two decades ago during the debate over what became the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. President Reagan, acting on the recommendation of a bipartisan task force, supported a comprehensive approach to the problem of illegal immigration, including adjusting the status of what was then a relatively small population. Since the Immigration and Naturalization Service was then in the Department of Justice, I had the responsibility for directing the implementation of that plan.

…The lesson from the 1986 experience is that such an amnesty did not solve the problem. There was extensive document fraud, and the number of people applying for amnesty far exceeded projections. And there was a failure of political will to enforce new laws against employers. After a brief slowdown, illegal immigration returned to high levels and continued unabated, forming the nucleus of today’s large population of illegal aliens.

So here we are, 20 years later, having much the same debate and being offered much the same deal.

What would President Reagan do? For one thing, he would not repeat the mistakes of the past, including those of his own administration. He knew that secure borders are vital, and would now insist on meeting that priority first. He would seek to strengthen the enforcement of existing immigration laws. He would employ new tools–like biometric technology for identification, and cameras, sensors and satellites to monitor the border–that make enforcement and verification less onerous and more effective.”

So, cut Reagan a little slack because nobody, even the Gipper, can handle every issue perfectly.

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