Everyone sees and hears the same thing day after day after day after day: “Why doesn’t President Trump just agree to one of the bills passed by the House of Representatives that fully funds the federal government and let government employees go back to work. The closing was strictly for political purposes — his border wall — which is a waste of $5 Billion taxpayer dollars, will not work, and is immoral. And those 800,000 federal employees are being penalized in the name of his stupid Wall.” Has anyone heard any or all of that? It’s EVERYWHERE!
Certainly, it would be much easier for a lot of folks if President Trump went ahead and caved to Pelosi and Schumer and did just that: call those workers back. But if he did, he would be betraying 63+ million Americans who he promised while campaigning that he would build that wall, close the southern border, and stop the flood of illegal immigrants from coming across that border. That would stop the flood of illegal drug, stop the sex traffickers, stop multiple felony offenders, and see to it that immigration laws in place are enforced until the portions of those laws that are outdated, unreasonable, and ineffective are terminated, fixed, or replaced with new legislation from Congress.
I am stepping aside of objectivity for just one moment and say this: Why would ANY American — member of Congress or anyone else for that matter — want so desperately for the hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants that numbered among them are gang members, drug and human traffickers, and thousands of others that have already been deported for lawbreaking to be allowed into the United States illegally? They are willing for this to happen in spite of no one knowing who those illegals are, which are good people just looking for better lives, and which are illegals who prey on legal Americans by committing against them everything from petty larceny to rape and murder? Until someone in a position of authority is willing to explain their willingness to continue to allow that to happen, please stop the outrageously ridiculous cries to do so.
To kick off a real discussion about this today, let’s address the argument that is thrown in our faces almost daily: Ronald Reagan gave citizenship to millions of illegals in 1986. He was the Republican hero that all point to as the conservative example for all to follow. If he did that, what is wrong for doing it again?
Yes, that was 33 years ago — a LONG time ago. But that law and surrounding circumstances are worth taking a look at. So let’s (in brief) take a look:
Reagan’s 1986 Immigration Law
President Reagan had a heart for immigrants. As a former California governor, he knew first-hand the benefits that immigrants were to the California agriculture industry. He was pressured by most of the leaders in California’s agriculture industry to find a way to legalize all those workers that were necessary to California Agriculture operation. They made it clear that without those illegals available to work in their fields, vineyards, and on their farms, California’s leading economic industry was doomed. That was the place that Reagan birthed the idea of addressing the growing illegal migrant population in America.
The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) is the legal name of the law. In a very brief fashion, here were the immigration issues addressed in the law:
- required employers to attest to their employees’ immigration status;
- made it illegal to hire or recruit illegal immigrants knowingly;
- legalized certain seasonal agricultural undocumented immigrants, and;
- legalized undocumented immigrants who entered the United States before January 1, 1982, and had resided there continuously with the penalty of a fine, back taxes due, and admission of guilt.
- candidates were required to prove that they were not guilty of crimes, that they were in the country before January 1, 1982, and that they possessed at least a minimal knowledge about U.S. history, government, and the English language.
At the time, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) estimated that about four million illegal immigrants would apply for legal status through the act and that roughly half of them would be eligible.
So what did the law actually do?
I’ll refer to an article from the Washington Post who better than I could list its provisions:
What did the 1986 immigration law do? Two big things. First, there was the “amnesty” bit. Any unauthorized immigrants who had already been living in the United States continuously since 1982 became eligible for temporary legal status, after paying a $185 fee and demonstrating “good moral character.” After 18 months, they could then become eligible for green cards, provided they learned to speak English.
Second, there was the enforcement bit. The law aimed to secure the U.S.-Mexico border against illegal crossings with new surveillance technology and a bigger staff. The bill also, for the first time in history, imposed penalties on businesses that knowingly hired or employed unauthorized immigrants.
How many immigrants took advantage of amnesty? The law awarded green cards to about 2.7 million immigrants, all told — including about 1 million farm workers. It was the largest legalization program in U.S. history.
When the bill passed, at the signing ceremony, President Reagan was obviously pleased with the accomplishments. Listen closely to the things he says at the signing:
Has it Worked?
- The 1986 amnesty legalized approximately 2.7 million illegal immigrants, a much smaller number than the 11 million estimated today. Washington approved 90 percent of the 1.3 million agricultural workers who sought legal status despite detecting fraud in nearly a third of the applications.
- The amnesty was supposed to be balanced with stronger enforcement measures, such as employer sanctions for those who hire illegal immigrants. This remains a major selling point of the “comprehensive” approach to immigration today.
- This enforcement turned out to be a bait and switch, like when spending cuts are promised in exchange for tax increases. The amnesty happened and is irreversible. The enforcement has been spotty and in some cases never materialized.
- What did materialize was more illegal immigration. By one estimate, illegal immigration increased by 44 percent between 1987 and 1989, from the start of amnesty to its peak. The Congressional Research Service reports that the illegal immigrant population swelled from 3.2 million in 1986 to 12.4 million in 2007, “before leveling off at 11.1 million in 2011.”
- Some analysts believe the number of illegal immigrants reached as high as 20 million. The author of a Bear Stearns report arriving at the figure later told the Wall Street Journal, “The assumption that illegal people will fill out a census form is the most ridiculous concept I have ever heard of.”
- It’s also worth noting that four years after amnesty became law, President George H.W. Bush signed a bill increasing legal immigration by 40 percent. Legal immigration has also been higher than in the mid-1980s and illegal immigration still increased.
Many Republicans who want to repeat the Reagan amnesty hope this will improve the party’s standing among Hispanics. But the actual Republican Hispanic vote share decreased between 1984, before amnesty, and 1988, after. It is noteworthy that since December of 2018, the statistics showing support among Hispanics for President Trump’s stand against illegal migrants has climbed from 31% to 59%.
As illegal immigration increased, enforcement decreased. Audits of employers of illegal immigrants dropped 77 percent between fiscal years 1990 and 2003. Warnings fell 62 percent. Notices of intent to fine illegal employers plummeted 82 percent.
So here’s the answer to the question asked in the first paragraph above: The reason President Trump has not agreed to the immigration plans given to him by Democrats is illustrated perfectly by the Washington Post — which few would disagree that doesn’t support the President in any way — the promises of Democrats that were even included in the law were NOT and still are NOT being kept in the wake of the blanket amnesty given to 2.7 million illegals. And the population of other illegals, as a result, has climbed to what the most recent non-partisan report states is now over 20 million.
How could any thinking, breathing human being expect this president — ANY president — to flatly agree to any promises made by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer? Why shouldn’t he go ahead and open the government? If he does, several things will happen:
- Obviously, all those federal workers go back on the job. That’s a good thing;
- Nancy Pelosi said plainly in their last meeting when the President asked she and Chuck: “If I go ahead and re-open the government, will you agree to negotiate over the next 30-days to fund border protection measures that include the wall?” Nancy stated they would not;
- In doing so, he would break a campaign promise that was the justification for millions of Americans to vote for him for President. For that, he certainly would lose the White House in 2020.
Let’s stipulate the wall, other types of border security, and closing the border WERE Trump campaign promises. But Americans should NOT have to argue in any way about the need for Congress and other parts of our government to enforce the laws of the United States! Not doing so accepts anarchy as a legitimate and acceptable government operation!
Here’s what I suggest: everytime you have a conversation with anyone who supports keeping immigration policies just as they are and wants the government open without making any commitments for real immigration law enforcement, ask them this question: “What is an acceptable number to you of legal Americans to be killed by illegal migrants before you would demand total illegal immigration law enforcement?”
And if they give you a number — any number — ask them this: “Are you O.K. if included in that number is your wife, husband, or child?”
That may seem harsh or cruel. But if we continue down this open-border road on which we are traveling, the odds of having an immediate family member having that happen become more and more real everyday.