Remember when Reagan advocated amnesty for illegal immigrants and open borders?
Rather than […] talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems, make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit, and then, while they’re working and earning here, they pay taxes here, and when they want to go back, they can go back, and […] open the border both ways […]
The above is taken from a 1980 debate between Reagan and Bush Sr. Both 1980s conservatives would be regarded as bleeding heart progressive globalists by today’s standards…perhaps paid off by Soros for bonus points. And one of these two men is the dude one of our political parties has all but elevated to sainthood.
He had more thoughts on the topic later in 1984:
Because people are losing their minds over the topic nowadays, I’m going to discuss immigration. This is a weird topic to me, and I disagree with pretty much everybody on it. I like to think this is because the “views” presented today in media are extreme caricatures that misrepresent the issue.
Americans Like Multiplying
What I find really, really bizarre about the form the topic has taken today is that we seem to have forgotten that we have always been about Americans promoting American values and inviting more people to become Americans because that has a net result of more Americans. More little flags in more little yards. More workers for more jobs. More democracy. More voices singing quaint little patriotic songs as eagles soar overhead. Remember when we were all about anybody and everybody packing up and coming over because even if your life to this point sucked — especially if it sucked — we’d take you in because once you become an American, we’ll make you awesome?
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
The idea has always been that every incoming immigrant is just a new American in the making, a proud new convert to the world’s shining city on a hill.
I honestly can’t imagine any modern context employing the words “wretched refuse” that wouldn’t end with building a wall. Today, we’re trying to make America great “again”, which is confusing given that…
Isn’t the U.S. of A. the Cat’s Pajamas?
Or, to borrow a phrase I hear over and over again on a certain conservative talk radio show, “the greatest nation on God’s green Earth”? (As an aside, how can it not be great and be the greatest simultaneously?) I grew up being led to believe we’re kind of a big deal. We’re the leader of the free world. Home of the American Dream. Big houses with picket fences. Home-runs and hamburgers and 401k’s and everyone has two Hummers in their driveway…
Yet we get pissed off because other people want to bail and head over our way? Heaven forbid someone want to live a better life here. And for those especially desperate, given their far worse states in extremely non-American lesser countries devoid of flashy little flags in front yards, can we blame them for throwing caution to the wind and trying to make it into the Dream however fastest they can, be it legal or not? Would you not be tempted to fudge the rules if you were stuck on the other side? How is it we’re not excited about how flipping eager they are to abandon their homeland and slap “made in America” on their foreheads?
That’s not to say I’m proposing we go “screw it, anything goes now”.
You Can’t Ignore Laws
We can’t ignore laws. If we could, then we could just will-nilly do whatever we darn well pleased, because the words of the law would just be arbitrary letters on paper, such as the letters on the paper of “8 U.S. Code § 1182 – Inadmissible aliens“:
An alien present in the United States without being admitted or paroled, or who arrives in the United States at any time or place other than as designated by the Attorney General, is inadmissible.
That one sentence is really what the whole mess boils down to. That is the letter of the law and that law is settled, so we have to obey it. That’s how laws work. So if someone crosses the border in any way other than that which is “designated by the Attorney General” (which is to say, dudes in suits), then they have broken the law, and can’t hang out with us.
But wait! That law is unjust, deporting parents and breaking up families, you racist fascist! Well, hold on, that’s jumping the gun. I said that’s the law and we have to enforce the law else laws mean nothing. I didn’t say it was right. As the infamous Edward Snowden would be quick to remind you, legal does not always mean moral.
What we can’t do is expect law enforcers to just pretend this law doesn’t exist. What we can do is debate the moral rightness/wrongness of the law, then advocate for changing that law if necessary. You can push for the judicial branch to strike down the law or the legislative branch to change the law. Is that fair to illegal immigrants here? No. Do I wish it was? Yes. Does anyone care what I think? No chance in hell. You have to change the law; ignoring it is not a solution.
The Law is a Mess
I propose the heart of the problem is that the system for becoming a legal immigrant is a mess of red tape and hoops to jump through. To get your big move rubber-stamped by the powers that be may very well take thousands of dollars and years of waiting. So, honestly, do you blame someone, who’s current neighborhood challenge is staying alive, when they conclude they can’t wait that long and afford that much? How in the world do we expect “the homeless, the tempest-tossed” to fork up that kinda funding and just hang tight a “few” years? Are we going to propose changing the saying on our iconic statue, and if so, isn’t that the exact opposite of being conservative?
Has it occurred to anyone that perhaps we would have fewer illegal immigrants if we made legal immigration reasonably accessible? Do you stay patient waiting at the DMV?
I’m not saying go all crazy with open borders so people can just run on over on a whim, but isn’t expecting them to win a bureaucratic war of attrition a little bit much? Is that really the only two options on the table nowadays?
Why aren’t we encouraging folks to be anxious and eager to become Americans?
Make America Peppy Again
The whole motto of the current President, “Make America Great Again”, is the dumbest pile of bologna to come along in a while in that it’s literally the exact opposite of what we needed to hear. The conservative Republicans of old were all about telling you how freaking amazing our country is. They would point to the “flood” of “illegals” and say, “See? We’re so awesome, they can’t even wait to get here legally!”
No one’s saying that.
That’s the problem.
Update 02/10 – I felt it worth adding a disclaimer in case my writing skill failed to imply the message accurately. If any of the language here strikes you as particularly ‘Murican’ or nationalistic, it’s sarcasm. I was trying to speak, with a bit of hyperbole, from a point of view I grew up drenched in during the 80’s.
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