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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Memory of immigration reform under Ronald Reagan haunts current debate



WASHINGTON — As the national debate over immigration reform began last week, a GOP-leaning advocacy group circulated talking points for Republicans. Among them: Don't mention Ronald Reagan.

The unusual warning to party faithful reflects the hangover Reagan left over immigration reform in 1986 by granting amnesty to nearly 3 million illegal immigrants.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act was pitched as a get-tough moment, with sanctions on employers and beefed-up border control. But it was largely a failure.

The law gave birth to "amnesty" as a slur, and unfulfilled promises about the border sowed distrust that drives a "border-first" mentality today, even as the government has made strides with security. It's the rare sore spot Republicans have with Reagan, whose mixed record on taxes and government spending has been lost to grand efforts to shape him into a monument to conservatism.

"I believe in the idea of amnesty," Reagan once declared. (story here)

[Last modified: Monday, February 4, 2013 11:55am]


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