As the right throws a fit over President Obama’s decision to stop deporting young people who were brought here illegally by their parents and are now well-established in the country, the Village Voice points out that Saint Ronald Reagan once went even further:
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.
Cue the cognitive dissonance in 3…2…1.
Like Dispatches on Facebook: