Quick, tell me who said this:
“I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though sometime back they may have entered illegally.”
If you guessed Ronald Reagan, you win. He said this during a debate with Walter Mondale during the 2004 presidential election. Two years later, he advocated and signed a bill that allowed amnesty for 3 million then-illegal immigrants.
But that’s the real Reagan, not Saint Ronald the Infallible that lives in the conservative imagination. And they could hardly be more different.
Saint Ronald the Infallible relentlessly cut taxes and reduced government spending to encourage fiscal responsibility; the real Ronald Reagan submitted budgets that were larger than the ones the Democratically-led Congress approved and sent to him for his signature, raised taxes several times and massively increased the federal debt.
Saint Ronald the Infallible was a tough guy who never cut and ran in the face of attacks and always stood tall in the saddle, just like in the movies; the real Ronald Reagan pulled the Marines out of Lebanon after the barracks were bombed by Hezbollah.
Saint Ronald the Infallible was resolute and adamant that America would never negotiate with terrorists; the real Ronald Reagan traded hundreds of TOW anti-tank missiles and HAWK anti-aircraft missiles, among other weapons, to Iran in order to free hostages in Lebanon. He did this almost immediately after Iran was declared a state sponsor of terrorism, by the way.