The Evil Ways Immigrants Destroyed America When Reagan Granted Them Amnesty


There has been the expected nuclear hay made by Republicans out of President Obama’s decision to give temporary relief to the children of undocumented immigrants in lieu of the D.R.E.A.M. Act passing. We were in the Rose Garden to witness the first attack personally, as an Irish immigrant, of all people, wouldn’t allow the president to even finish his statement on his planned immigrant executive order.

If there is one thing conservatives love more than tax breaks it’s Ronald Reagan, and you can’t look at Reagan’s history without remembering the Simpson-Mazzoli Immigration Reform and Control Act, which granted the dreaded “a word” (amnesty, that is, something Obama pointedly said his plan will not do). But a lot of conservatives try to forget their beloved Reagan signed amnesty into law and said, “I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and who have lived here, even though some time back they may have entered illegally.”

Whatever happened to the three million people Reagan granted amnesty to a quarter century ago? Did they succeed in ripping the nation to shreds, destroying American industry, and murdering gringos left and right, much as Reagan’s disciples predict would happen if such a bill would become law (or even Obama’s much more tepid stopgap executive order) today?

Actually, quite the opposite.

Those immigrants, like most who get legal status, bought homes, sent their kids to school, and participated in a record period of economic expansion and growth. In 2010, back in those halcyon days when Arizona was first debating S.B. 1070, the Voice profiled three of those immigrants and talked to them about how legal status affected (and, largely, improved) their lives, their family’s lives, and the lives of their communities.

Check out our story “Ronnie’s Kids: The Bright Side of Amnesty,” which was part of the Voice’s “Amongst Us” series.

There’s also an interview we did on WNYC’s “The Takeaway” with Noel Bordador, an Episcopal priest who was a subject of our story.

Bordador is both an undocumented immigrant and gay. Later this week, we’ll write about the connection between the two groups. It was interesting how, in September of 2010, we were in United States Senate when a vote to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell failed. The same day, an attempt to move the D.R.E.A.M. Act forward in the Senate also failed. Meanwhile, we were in the White House last Friday when, much to our surprise, President Obama celebrated the full passage of the former (it was the first time out military personnel could attend his Pride Reception) and made an end-run around the latter. They had dovetailed back together.