1980: Bush and Reagan on Mexican Immigration

This is interesting, if anything, because it rather clearly illustrates a) the Reagan many worship today is not the Reagan that actually existed, and b) it helps underscore how far right the GOP has gone on this issue. (Source:  Hit and Run).




FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. It’s bad enough you copied Alex Knapp’s beard, but this is too far, sir!


  2. @Stormy Dragon: Kudos on your memory!

  3. Rob Prather says:

    I miss that Republican Party. Now it is composed mostly of nativists.

  4. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. There were about 5 million illegal aliens at that point, and 3-4 million took advantage of that law.

    Some context: 5 million illegal aliens, total population 240 million. 1 illegal alien per 48 residents.

    Current figures: 11 million illegal aliens, total population 317 million. 1 illegal alien per 29 residents.

    (All numbers rounded to nearest million)

    The 1986 Act was supposed to fix the problem. Instead, the number of illegals has gone up about 110%, while the total population’s gone up about 33%.

    Actually, it’s even worse. The Act reset the number down to about a million, so it’s gone up 1100%.

    The enforcement promises of that debate never materialized. Hiring illegal aliens was made illegal, but was given huge loopholes. Instead of giving employers a way to verify eligibility, they were given a list of documents that they could accept — and many were easily forged or stolen.

    It’s also worth noting that Bush was even more incoherent than usual with that answer. I had to listen twice to figure out what he was trying to say. He’s a good man and was a good president, but both he and his son are both gifted with serious stumblemouth.

    Reagan got rolled on that bill. And I’m not surprised that so many people wish that the party of Reagan were as trusting as he was, and didn’t remember just how badly he was rolled then.

  5. An Interested Party says:

    Reagan got rolled on that bill.

    Rolled on this, rolled on tax and spend, rolled on…etc….he must of been senile for the entire eight years he was in office…

  6. Pinky says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Bad Jenos! It says right there, this isn’t about context or understanding, it’s about “hit and run”.

  7. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @An Interested Party: First up, it’s “must have.”

    Second, Reagan had a lot of successes, but had his failures too. But overall, he was one of the best presidents we’ve had.

    But just because Reagan got conned by trusting the Democrats’ promise of ‘amnesty now, enforcement later” doesn’t mean we should follow his example and accept the same promise this time.

  8. anjin-san says:


    context or understanding

    We understand perfectly. According to Jenos, Reagan got rolled by Democrats on a regular basis. Guess he was not much of a leader after all.

  9. An Interested Party says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Thank you for the grammatical correction although that alone does not make up for the rather dubious assertion that Reagan supposedly “was one of the best presidents we’ve had.” Obviously your skills as an editor far surpass your knowledge of history…

  10. sam says:

    Be kind to Jenos. He just lost Benghazi. What’s a guy gonna do when his foaming outrage tank is depleted by a significant amount?

  11. bill says:

    @Rob Prather: that’s a small %, the msm loves to hear from them as it’s good news!
    anyhow, reagan’s deal was supposed to be the “one time only fix all” for that problem, fast forward to the present and we’re seemingly inviting the problem to continue so we can keep fixing it.
    republicans do not hate mexicans, or immigrants in general- this episode is mainly about procedure and hypocrisy.

  12. al-Ameda says:

    We have neighbors who took advantage of that amnesty to become citizens. They were Republicans until Gov. Pete Wilson strongly supported Proposition 187, a measure that locked Republicans on to a nativist path. Our neighbors are hard working people from Mexico, everyone in the family works (some have two jobs, they now own two homes.