Family photos adorned the credenza behind him. For others, it was just to the left. In the middle was common ground.
The History of US Immigration Laws | Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
So he seized the moment here:. If you break it down, this passage is consistent with the kinds of principles and policies that we could stand to reaffirm today. Built on rocks, God blessed. Reagan believed national pride and patriotism were important but should be thoughtful and informed. For him, you could be confident in knowing that America is special, even exceptional, and built on a firm foundation of freedom. Yet you also should be humble enough to know that our freedom is fragile and not to be taken for granted.
Humming with commerce and creativity.
Reagan believed in American global leadership, both political and economic. For him, you could actively engage in markets abroad and protect the needs of small business and working-class Americans at home. The two were not mutually exclusive, as they sometimes are viewed today. Open doors, people of all kinds. Reagan kept the door open for refugees and asylum seekers from places like Vietnam, Cuba, and the Soviet Union.
In he also signed into law immigration reform that is most famously remembered or infamously, in the view of many for extending legal status to more than 2 million undocumented migrants.
These three principles begin to offer a way of forging the unity that so many of us desire. Young and old, white collar and blue collar, Republican and Democrat. All qualities that are under stress in our political system today. At times we have faltered in its pursuit and needed a call to action to get us on track. But they have it backward. IRCA actually had two big pieces. One—the successful piece—was amnesty, which was limited, fatefully, to immigrants who had been continuously in the U.
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The politics around this new enforcement were scrambled and did not break down along party lines. Many Democrats opposed the bill, with some arguing that hiring restrictions would lead to discrimination against all Latinos. Labor unions worried that the bill would be too lenient on employers, particularly in agriculture, while some Republicans opposed it because it might be too tough on businesses. Compromises pulled the bill to passage.
To reassure those worried about employment discrimination, an amendment prohibited, for the very first time, employment discrimination on the basis of national origin.
Neighbor Relations:. An Immigration Problem Between The
Senator Pete Wilson—who as governor in the s would embrace anti-immigrant politics—helped lead negotiations that led to the creation of a special legalization category for agricultural workers. IRCA should have been celebrated as a tremendous legislative victory. Reporters in attendance asked about the Iran-Contra scandal, not immigration.
But in his remarks that day, Reagan unabashedly emphasized the benefits of the bill for the undocumented.
Under the two-step amnesty process, more than 3 million people applied for temporary residency, which lasted 18 months, in the first phase. In the second phase, 2. An estimated 2 million people did not legalize their status. Why not? The law was not generous enough. In retrospect, the process should have covered all undocumented immigrants and should have established a regular amnesty process every few years, since the demand for immigrant labor was certain to keep attracting people to the country.
The United States immigration reform and control act of 1986 : implementation and effects
But in many ways, amnesty was a government success story—it gave millions of people the legal status they required to have a better life. The main attack on the law continues to this day: Amnesty encouraged more undocumented immigrants to come, critics say. In fact, the opposite is true. Studies show that amnesty produced a small decline in the number of illegal entries into the country. Restrictionists also have persistently claimed that only tougher border security and immigration enforcement will reduce illegal immigration. Instead, the endless deluge of new laws and restrictions have made it nearly impossible for undocumented persons to legalize their status or establish themselves in the country, thus adding to the numbers of people who stay in the shadows.
Even migrants who arrive legally and apply for legal status can be effectively turned into lawbreakers by the immigration system. This is pure Kafka: In the name of stopping illegal immigration, we make all immigrants illegal. President Trump represents not a new approach but rather a nasty extension of our longstanding obsession with criminalizing immigrants; his innovations are to reclassify refugees and children as immigrant terrorists, who need their own concentration camps. Their proposals combine more failed border security policies with legalization plans so full of bureaucratic obstacles and delays—some proposals require a year wait to achieve legal status—that they are worthless.
Sadly, both advocates and opponents of immigration now follow the same failed script of increased spending on border security, increased illegalness, and offering a narrow path to legitimacy.