Guess who said this:
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 can pay taxes here. And then when they want to go back, they can go back. Open the borders both ways.
If you guessed Ronald Reagan, award yourself a cookie. He said in during a debate with George H.W. Bush during the 1980 election. And this was what Bush said about it:
Look, I’d like to see something done about the illegal alien problem that would be so sensitive and so understanding about labor needs and human needs that that problem wouldn’t come up. But today, if those people are here, I would reluctantly say I think they would get whatever it is, you know, that society is giving to their neighbors. But the problem has to be solved. The problem has to be solved. Because, as we have made illegal some kinds of labor that I’d like to see legal, we’re doing two things, we’re creating a whole society of really honorable, decent, family-loving people that are in violation of the law and secondly we’re exacerbating relations with Mexico. [...] If they’re living here, I don’t want to see six and eight year old kids being made totally uneducated and made to feel like they’re living totally outside the law. These are good people, strong people.
It’s endlessly amusing and interesting how the right has turned Ronald Reagan into the embodiment of their current ideology when he was anything but. This was a man who raised taxes many times, who drove up the deficit massively, who negotiated and traded arms with terrorists and who cut and ran in Lebanon after the attack on the Marine barracks. Yet in conservative mythology he was a tax-cutting fiscal conservative who resolutely stood up to terrorism and never backed down to our enemies. The reality could hardly be more different from the myth they’ve invented.
Like Dispatches on Facebook: