Skip to comments.1986 AMNESTY SENT IMMIGRATION NUMBERS SOARING
Posted on 08/29/2005 8:26:17 PM PDT by hedgetrimmer
ON THE SAN YSIDRO BORDER CROSSING WITH MEXICO -- Three or four years ago, most of us who were complaining about the lack of border and immigration controls were using the figure of 3 million to 4 million illegal aliens in America. That figure seemed bad enough.
Then the numbers started to boggle the mind. Month after month, in reputable news magazines and from responsible analysts of border affairs, the estimated numbers of aliens in the country kept going up and up and up.
Suddenly, the number was 5 million; then, only a few months later, 8 million. Then some sources started using 12 million as the standard and even, finally, an astonishing 20 million! When the census bureau was to release the 2002 statistics on illegals in America, it had found 10 million more than it had planned for. (In fact, the bureau gave a press conference on a Friday afternoon, when no one would report on it.)
All of this has led to agitation over illegal aliens and an "invasion" that the country has not hitherto experienced. In only the last few weeks, the Democratic governors of both Arizona and New Mexico have declared an "immigration emergency," and Nuevo Laredo on the Mexican side of the border with Texas has had so many murders it is being looked at as the drug/murder capital of the region.
But here on the San Diego end of the border across from Tijuana, for officials who have worked realistically with immigration -- and suffered eternally under the lack of leadership from Washington -- the question of where these estimated numbers of illegals has come from is hardly a mystery.
Pete Nunez, the former U.S. attorney for San Diego and a lifelong fighter for immigration control, told me in a recent talk: "Why are those numbers today so high? Because of the amnesty of 1986! Those 2.7 million illegals amnestied were then able, in the decade of the '90s, to sponsor their family members. That decade turned out to have the highest number of legal immigrants practically in our history, because of the amnesty."
Here at the busy port of entry, in my long conversations with officials of the Department of Homeland Security, which encompasses immigration, border patrol and customs, there is unanimous agreement with this interpretation.
"The '86 experience definitely led to family reunification," Lauren Mack, customs and border protection public affairs officer, agreed. "We watched that amnesty -- it only created more fraud and more problems."
Immigration law has become so tortuous and contradictory that probably no one in America really understands it. The best analysts wring their hands as they speak. But they know what their experience tells them.
As opposed to fencing and physically and technologically controlling the border, as has been done here at San Ysidro in the last 15 years while the adjoining states' borders are in chaos, the Bush administration first proposed still another form of amnesty (its contours never really clear), and now it suggests some form of guest worker program.
It sounds good. One would suppose that a "guest worker" program would include controls from the American side and responsibilities on the immigrant workers' side. But that is not the way it turns out.
The 1986 amnesty was not to be the first of many amnesties, nor a kind of experimental plug in the flow of human beings from a poor country to a rich one. To the contrary, it was to be the "last amnesty." Pushed by liberals in Congress like Teddy Kennedy, it was supposed to settle and legalize the illegals already in the United States, while controlling future immigration. It was to be the solution.
Instead, those 2.7 million settled in America and, under the dominating "family reunification" policy, were able immediately to sponsor almost any number of relatives, some bringing in 80 or 90 persons. And because the enforcement aspects of the law were never put into practice, the 1986 amnesty left the gate open to still more massive numbers. Meanwhile, the proposed new guest worker programs before Congress almost all provide for some kind of amnesty that will lead only to a repeat of 1986.
America is at a crucial turning point. Everyone knows that immigration is out of hand. Everyone who fairly studies the economics of it knows that "immigrants only take jobs that Americans won't take" (that wonderfully false mantra) because immigration allows the greedy growers and companies to forgo more expensive technology that would make these jobs attractive to unemployed Americans. Everyone who is not overcome by self-interest knows that immigration policy is determined not by the citizens who suffer from it, but by the constituencies that gain money and power from it.
This is the moment to go beyond all the old platitudes and self-destructive pretend policies and to realize that our half-measures are leading to numbers that this country simply cannot absorb, and continue to remain what it is.
As the San Ysidro border shows, it is a question of analysis, of intention and of will, all three of them in short supply in Washington.
Reagan's biggest mistake. I think he honestly felt it was the best thing we could do at the time.
About to be repeated by Bush.
And people wonder why Mexican and Illegal Alien are considered synonymous......
Correction: Not if a fanatical fringe group has anything to say about it.
But GWB "doesn't have time" while in CA to meet with Ahnold!
Well Californians, I guess when the GOP calls you for a donation you'll know what to say..."sorry, I just don't have the time!"
Yeah, and World War I was supposed to be "the war to end all wars."
Bush's "amnesty" is not a repeat of Reagan's amnesty.
The IRCA of 1986 was not fully and properly enforced. But the laws are still on the books.
We need a guest worker program with strict rules. No families, no government programs, etc.
1986 amnesity ? Good grief !
What about Clinton's "Citizenship USA" move in 1995-1996 ?
Over 1 million people naturalized in the 13 months before the 1996 elections.
Almost 88% of the immigrant files lacked sufficient documentation for anything other than deportation.
It all sucks
OK, FReepers, time to help out my feeble memory. I seem to recall that faTeddy spearheaded this to get certain Irish terrorists in, also? The illegals from elsewhere and the terrorists, etc., were an unpleasant side effect; as long as his buddies got in....
Please set me straight if I'm wrong.
The concept of American nationhood is dying fast, but never fear the propagandists who peddle the half truths live well in their gated communities.