The Reagan amnesty ‘gotcha’ that isn’t

No, Reagan didn't do what Obama wants to do. (AP file photo)

No, Reagan didn’t do what Obama wants to do. (AP file photo)

For years, liberals have pointed to President Reagan’s signing of a 1986 amnesty for illegal immigrants as proof the GOP is crazy not to follow suit now, or that Reagan would be a Democrat today, or something. (For some reason, they don’t employ the same logic about JFK and tax cuts.) But House Republicans have held firm on the principle that we must stop the influx of illegal immigrants before making any move to legalize the presence of those already here, and so — unlike what happened in 1986 — Congress has not passed a law on this subject.

Now President Obama is reportedly set to issue an executive order to defer, indefinitely, the prosecution of some 5 million illegal immigrants. The left is anxious to prove this kind of bypass of Congress, too, is something Reagan did. And so a new line of argument is suddenly popping up all over the place. Typical is this version of it from the Associated Press:

“President Barack Obama’s anticipated order that would shield millions of immigrants now living illegally in the U.S. from deportation is not without precedent.

“Two of the last three Republican presidents — Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush — did the same thing in extending amnesty to family members who were not covered by the last major overhaul of immigration law in 1986.

“There was no political explosion then comparable to the one Republicans are threatening now.”

This, the shiny new argument goes, is proof positive the GOP, and particularly tea partyers, are acting in bad faith.

But well down in that AP article, there’s a quote that — unintentionally, I presume — speaks to one very large difference between then and now:

“‘It’s a striking parallel,’ said Mark Noferi of the pro-immigration American Immigration Council. ‘Bush Sr. went big at the time. He protected about 40 percent of the unauthorized population. Back then that was up to 1.5 million. Today that would be about 5 million.'”

If we take Noferi’s numbers at face value and apply some basic math, that would mean the “unauthorized population” has grown from about 3.75 million to 12.5 million during the course of 25 years (Bush issued his executive order in 1989). If so, the number of illegal immigrants has more than tripled during that time while the total U.S. population has grown by about 28 percent.

This is an argument against an amnesty like the one Obama is contemplating, not for it. You see, a big reason for the opposition to another amnesty now — and particularly one that takes place before we’ve proved we can keep new illegal crossings to a bare minimum — is that things didn’t go so well the last time we tried it.

If the “unauthorized population” were to grow at the same rate over the next 25 years, we’d be talking about nearly 42 million people by 2039. At even half the 1989-2014 rate of growth, we’d be talking about some 21 million people.

It’s not that critics of Obama’s plans are being hypocrites now; rather, they’ve learned from what happened in the past and want to avoid a similar mistake in the future. None of this even gets to the question of whether the Reagan and Bush executive orders — issued to address problems with a law that had passed not too long beforehand — are really all that comparable to the present situation.

If you think a rational, enforceable immigration policy is something the U.S. government owes it to its citizens, not to mention the millions of people trying to follow the rules to enter this country, you just might think what happened in the past bolsters, rather than weakens, your case.

Reader Comments 0

118 comments
JackClemens
JackClemens

"But House Republicans have held firm on the principle that we must stop the influx of illegal immigrants before making any move to legalize the presence of those already here, and so — unlike what happened in 1986 — Congress has not passed a law on this subject."


Yet a bi-partisan bill sits in the House gathering dust and spiderwebs.


MaggieLin
MaggieLin

You would think good Liberals would oppose this amnesty bill.


Allowing illegals to stay takes jobs away from America's poorest citizens and job competition lowers their wages.


Allowing illegals to stay means they suck up social services funds that should go to struggling American citizens.


Allowing illegals to stay floods our hospitals with people seeking free medical care making medical care more expensive for all citizens.  Mine is up to $450/month. I’m a healthy 28 year old female.  (Contrast this to my $26/month auto insurance from Insurance Panda or my $15/month renters insurance from Eagle or my $15/month dental from Delta)


Allowing illegals to stay increases population which increases pollution and urban sprawl. (just look at LA)


Allowing illegals to stay floods our schools with their spawn taking resources meant for our kids’ education.


Allowing illegals to stay helps businesses to operate with cheap non-union labor.


So why do Liberals support amnesty when it hurts most of the people and issues they support?

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@MaggieLin 

Because their mode of decision-making incorporates the ability to eschew accountability from the disastrous effects fo their policies. 

In the age of 0bama, the principle strategy is to declare disasters; the number one tactic is to demagogue. 

To them, the problems matter not.  All they need is a canvas to paint on. 

Starik
Starik

@MaggieLin


Allowing illegals to stay takes jobs away from America's poorest citizens and job competition lowers their wages.

---- No. Poor Americans don't compete because they won't work at hard, lo pay jobs, or (often) are addicted to drugs or alcohol.


Allowing illegals to stay means they suck up social services funds that should go to struggling American citizens.

---- No. Illegals are ineligible for benefits. Their children who are American citizens may be.


Allowing illegals to stay floods our hospitals with people seeking free medical care making medical care more expensive for all citizens.  Mine is up to $450/month. I’m a healthy 28 year old female.  (Contrast this to my $26/month auto insurance from Insurance Panda or my $15/month renters insurance from Eagle or my $15/month dental from Delta)

--- No. Illegals are prohibited from using Obamacare; we should have universal, basic healthcare for everybody like they have in Europe, the UK and Canada.

Allowing illegals to stay increases population which increases pollution and urban sprawl. (just look at LA)

---No. Like other developed countries we need entry-level workers. Social Security needs their contributions. 


Allowing illegals to stay floods our schools with their spawn taking resources meant for our kids’ education.

---No. Educating their kids, citizens or not, increases the quality of our work force.


Allowing illegals to stay helps businesses to operate with cheap non-union labor.

---This is a ''right to work'' state.

If we allowed contributing "illegals" to stay they could participate fully in our economy and prove their worth - just like all the waves of immigrants that built this country.  

The_Truth1970
The_Truth1970

@Starik you have no idea what you are talking about. Illegal immigrants CAN receive social services. Citizen is NOT required for WIC, to name one. 


Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

For some reason, they don’t employ the same logic about JFK and tax cuts.

I'd be all for Obama spearheading such a tax cut that'd bring the top tax rate all the way down to 70%.

I'll employ that logic 'til the cows come home.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@stands_for_decibels So you'd employ the logic in a way that considers how circumstances have changed? To the point past actions shouldn't guide present ones?

If so, good for you.

TicTacs
TicTacs

The President play you folk like a fiddle.  You funny.

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@Jefferson1776 

Indeed, the recent election showed how tired the American people are of being "played" this way. 

It doesn't look like they'll put up with it anymore, not from bamster, nor his party members in the media. 

straker
straker

Dusty - "the USA wants a party with integrity and patriotism"


And, that party most definitely is NOT the Republican Party.

Tiberius Constitutionus
Tiberius Constitutionus

Indeed. Fact is, you'd be hard pressed to find a major american political party with less patriotism and integrity than the current iteration of the GOP. Their actions over the past 13 years have caused monumental damage to the Republic.

straker
straker

When it comes to our current illegal population, the damage has been done.


The real question is - are we doing all that is possible to stop more millions from coming here to stay?

Starik
Starik

Reagan would not have been a tea party fan; he was far too moderate for that.  He wouldn't have invaded Iraq and dragged out Afghanistan either. Too much conscience.  I voted for Reagan twice, and for Gerald Ford, but these new-breed "Republicans" have become extreme haters of them furriners and lost me completely. 

blah blah blah
blah blah blah

@Starik what's the alternative???  Liberals who are trying to destroy this country???  FYI, the Tea party came into being because of liberal policies being rammed down our throats..

DeborahinAthens
DeborahinAthens

One thing that could be done, and will NEVER be done because we have spineless, gutless "lawmakers" in Washington is simply to repeal Birth Citizenship. This would eliminate pregnant women crossing the border to have a baby that will be an "anchor" baby. It will prevent Asians from taking birth vacations to pop a child that will be an American. I believe we are the last industrialized country to have birth citizenship. Canada and France repealed theirs years ago. Australia has always jealously guarded their citizenship status.

Mick11
Mick11

Yes...let's shoo and scatter with this the current reality:

Unemployment - 5.9

Stock Market - tripled since 08

Mortgage rates - 2.8%

Healthcare - 10 million more have it

NO NEW WARS!  Isis?  Target practice, let those people in the neighborhood take care of the rest

Bonus - gas at $2.54 yes, that what I paid


Yeah the dems are so bad that they rescued you bushbots while you sold fear and hate...thanks for nothing...

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@Mick11 

Falling income equality. 

Median income falling.

2 million plus Americans PER YEAR added to not-looking-for-work.

You obviously didn't see or hear about the shellacking democrats took for their policies of malaise and apathy about Americans and our economy. 

And you can't stop talking about Reagan. 

Vey interesting.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@blah blah blah Give 'ole Mick credit.  He continues to spout those same dem talking points.  And, keeps getting annihilated.

But, he comes back anyway.  Give him an "A" for effort and perseverance. 

blah blah blah
blah blah blah

@Mick11 Yes...let's shoo and scatter with this the current reality:

Unemployment - 5.9  -2 million still looking for work since 2008 & America is turning into part-time work force

Stock Market - tripled since 08  - trillions given to wall street FREE MONEY

Mortgage rates - 2.8%  - glutton of homes on the market - supply & demand

Healthcare - 10 million more have it  - false most ACA members already had insurance but what about the 40 million without???

NO NEW WARS!  Isis?  Target practice, let those people in the neighborhood take care of the rest - headless comment and did you forget Ukraine, Libya, Egypt Congo all of which are on fire.  Leading from behind - ha ha

Bonus - gas at $2.54 yes, that what I paid  - it only took 6 years but why not $1.50


Yeah the dems are so bad - finally the truth comes out!!!

Albert Palmieri
Albert Palmieri

@Mick11 You do know china just took the largest economy away from the US 2 months ago under Obama. 

NorthAtlanta
NorthAtlanta

Kyle, on all these blogs I can't scroll very far down.  It just ends even though I know there are more comments.  Plus the "X" on the right side is on top of the slider bar; thus you can't click on the slider without X'ing out.  Just letting you know that problems still exist with this format.

Mick11
Mick11

Weak kyle, very weak and you did not prove your point, just more twisting by the right...

Dusty2
Dusty2

Is it possible that Democrats are all deaf, dumb and blind?  They want to blame any national problem on Republicans when we have a Democratic president and a senate led by a Democrat.  Why don't the Democrats do something instead of

sitting here like birds on a wire trying to blame someone else?  You've had your turn and you failed. 


So shut up and go home.  The USA wants a party with integrity and patriotism.  I add that last because working against our country is not patriotic.


Scat!  Shoo, Democrats.  You failed!

HarryCrews
HarryCrews

@Dusty2 

"The USA wants a party with integrity and patriotism."

I'll go out on a wire and say the majority of Americans (maybe not the majority of guests on this forum) would rather see several political parties and a system that wasn't rigged for the two entrenched stalwarts.

You know, 'political parties' aren't mentioned a single time in the Constitution. In fact, George Washington (integral and patriotic) in his farewell address warned of the "continual mischiefs of the spirit of party" advising the "interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it."

He also opined in the same speech: "The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism."

RantNRave
RantNRave

" If you want to be really ticked off read the "Sex Crimes" chapter."


JOHN ANONYMOUS


HECK THE IMMIGRANTS SHOULD BE TICKED OFF ABOUT THEIR CHILDREN


HAVING TO GO TO SCHOOL WITH "MASS MURDERERS"........................................



RantNRave
RantNRave





508 DAYS SINCE THE SENATE PASSED IMMIGRATION BILL 




Senate passes sweeping immigration bill
June 2013


Washington (CNN) -- The U.S. Senate gave final approval Thursday to a roughly 1,200-page bill that promises to overhaul immigration laws for the first time since 1986, creating a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented residents while ratcheting up security along the Mexican border.


Senators passed the sweeping legislation -- initially drafted by the four Democrats and four Republicans in the chamber's so-called "Gang of Eight" -- by a 68-32 vote.


Fourteen REPUBLICANS joined a united Democratic caucus in supporting the bill, which is backed by the White House and has the potential to become the crowning legislative achievement of President Barack Obama's second term.

Albert Palmieri
Albert Palmieri

@RantNRave achievement of President Barack Obama's HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Obama has done nothing for this counrty but get 4 ameriancs killed in benghazi and blames a youtube video. 

The_Truth1970
The_Truth1970

@RantNRave That is not the way our government works. If legislation doesn't pass congress, the President can't use that to bypass congress. If Bush asked for legislation regulating abortion clinics, and didn't receive it from Congress, he couldn't go around congress and create abortion clinic legislation via an executive order. The founders didn't want an emperor...apparently you do. 

Handsome Man
Handsome Man

Hold on. The author's main point is there are more illegal/unauthorized people, or more to a greater percent. NOWHERE does actually address the main point, that YES, Reagan and Bush issued executive orders to aid Illegal/unauthorized people. Were the circumstances somewhat different, the timing, yes, but that does NOT change the fact that they did do it. Which IS the point, that they are going after Obama for a line of action, a line of action Reagan and Bush I did.

blah blah blah
blah blah blah

@Handsome Man excuse me but the congress passed the law not RR or Bush.  They just followed the law.  Something Obama should try,

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

"...things didn’t go so well the last time we tried it."

And you know there were people at the time who warned against granting those GOP amnesties, just like we're speaking out now. A huge cautionary tale here about the long-term damaging consequences of allowing politicians of any stripe to engage in touchy-feely social engineering.

John Anonymous
John Anonymous

There are all sorts of costs and unintended consequences that come with illegal aliens.  Probably the best resource that lays them all out is the free report THE DARK SIDE OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION.  Google it. There is a whole chapter on costs.  If you want to be really ticked off read the "Sex Crimes" chapter.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Watch when McConnell pulls out his immigration plan and goes to reading it to the AmeRican people. We'll be like "yes, why isn't the president enforcing the border? And how many criminals have we let in so far?" 


And that^^ ain't no gruber.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

"If you think a rational, enforceable immigration policy". . . .


I was actually hoping congress would get on with it.  They can stop this executive action by actually passing a rational enforceable immigration policy. 

Rational: Not "send 'em all back home!" 

Enforceable: Prioritize sending back the criminals, de-prioritize sending back parts of families (causing families to be split). It puts action where it is needed most. 


I was hoping congress could do it, but it seems like all Republicans can do is whine about executive action. 


AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

@HeadleyLamar Spare us, gruber, in the midterms they split evenly between the two parties. And your arrow is pointing down.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

I'm late to the party, but Reagan traded amnesty to the democrats in exchange for border security. And, of course, the democrats got their amnesty but they grubered on the border enforcement.


We learned our lesson well.

HarryCrews
HarryCrews

@IReportYouWhineTheGreat

Sir: Your use of Jonathan Gruber's name as a noun AND verb doesn't make a lot of sense in the context of your two posts.

What exactly are you trying to infer?

Cogito Ergo Erras
Cogito Ergo Erras

@Captain-Obvious


It may be that the SCOTUS, who has already smacked Obama down, will REALLY start to smack him down in the ACA case before it and others in the pipeline.

Tiberius Constitutionus
Tiberius Constitutionus

@Captain-Obvious The question isn't whether the President is right or wrong.  Rather, the question is what the President needs to do to save the Republic from the Tea Party-led GOP menace?  If he needs to do so by taking an expansive view of his executive authority, then so be it.  Turley, liberal or not, can theorize all he wants.  But the President is the proverbial boot on the ground and I hope he has the chops to follow through on his threat.