When their hissy fits subside over Pres. Obama’s announcement last week that he is instructing immigration police to exempt about 800,000 children of undocumented workers from deportation, it would be instructive to remind GOPT spittle-spewers that their patron saint, Ronald Reagan, signed a law in 1986 that provided amnesty to 3 million “illegals”:
Reagan’s amnesty law was introduced by the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate in May 1986, six months before the congressional elections.
[In] 1986, Ronald Reagan signed a sweeping immigration reform bill into law. It was sold as a crackdown: There would be tighter security at the Mexican border, and employers would face strict penalties for hiring undocumented workers.
But the bill also made any immigrant who’d entered the country before 1982 eligible for amnesty … The law granted amnesty to nearly 3 million illegal immigrants, yet was largely considered unsuccessful because the strict sanctions on employers were stripped out of the bill for passage.
Republicans who sat on their hands — the ones, that is, who were not applauding — when George W. Bush signed more than 270 executive orders, including one that authorized the wiretapping without court order of American citizens, were upset that Pres. Obama exercised his right to change the immigrants’ disposition by executive order. John Yoo, the author of Bush’s infamous “torture memo” — essentially an executive order authorizing the government to torture terror suspects — had the temerity to say, “President Obama’s claim that he can refuse to deport 800,000 aliens here in the country illegally illustrates the unprecedented stretching of the Constitution and the rule of law.”
Republicans were also upset that Obama’s action was “political,” given that it was done five months before the presidential election. Reagan’s amnesty law was introduced by his party’s majority in the U.S. Senate in May 1986, six months before the congressional elections. Republicans pushed the law through with the hope that the promise of amnesty would help them win Latino voters and keep control of the Senate in the fall.
Their hopes were dashed, however. On Election Day that Nov. 4, the Senate flipped from 47 Democrats and 53 Republicans to 55 Democrats and 45 Republicans. Two days later, Reagan signed the amnesty law into effect.