[A]mnesty is psychologically wrong. As Senator Grassley remarked following his vote for Reagan’s amnesty, “You know what I found out? If you reward illegality, you get more of it.”That 1986 amnesty—back when even the Washington Post routinely referred to it as "amnesty"—gifted legal status to about 2.7 million illegal aliens, many under fraudulent pretenses. But as Brenda reminded us, the enforcement that was supposed to follow the amnesty didn't happen, so the amnesty didn't solve our problem.
Furthermore, one amnesty of millions in 1986 was an instance of misplaced generosity (where the promised enforcement never occurred) but a second amnesty constitutes a pattern that can never be erased. A second mass reward of lawbreaking foreigners means that immigration anarchy won’t be fixed, ever, because the word will spread across the world that America is still the stupid-generous open-borders soft touch it ever was.
And, in fact, there actually have been six further mass amnesties following 1986's, helpfully summarized by NumbersUSA:
The Seven Amnesties Passed by CongressSee that NumbersUSA link for (the appalling) details.
- Immigration and Reform Control Act (IRCA), 1986: A blanket amnesty for some 2.7 million illegal aliens
- Section 245(i) Amnesty, 1994: A temporary rolling amnesty for 578,000 illegal aliens
- Section 245(i) Extension Amnesty, 1997: An extension of the rolling amnesty created in 1994
- Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) Amnesty, 1997: An amnesty for close to one million illegal aliens from Central America
- Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act Amnesty (HRIFA), 1998: An amnesty for 125,000 illegal aliens from Haiti
- Late Amnesty, 2000: An amnesty for some illegal aliens who claim they should have been amnestied under the 1986 IRCA amnesty, an estimated 400,000 illegal aliens
- LIFE Act Amnesty, 2000: A reinstatement of the rolling Section 245(i) amnesty, an estimated 900,000 illegal aliens
And that's not all! As David North of the Center for Immigration Studies has written, "[T]he United States runs a series of continuing amnesties all the time, year-round, year after year." [Border Crisis or Not, U.S. Continues to Operate a Rolling Amnesty, July 10, 2014] Each such "retail" amnesty involves supposed "hardship" to a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident ("LPR," aka "green-card holder") that the illegal alien has glommed onto.
So, pace Brenda, I think immigration patriots need to keep something else foremost in their minds on this subject:
• We started with approximately six million illegal aliens (see discussion at end), about half of whom were amnestied via the 1986 IRCA disaster.
• At least another three million illegal aliens had their status laundered to "legal" in the six subsequent, less-known mass amnesties summarized above.
• Plus there's a steady drip-drip-drip of individual illegal aliens cashing in on our softheadedness. (Or as Michelle Malkin says, "It ain't over until the alien wins.")
• Despite all those comprehensive capitulations, we have at least 11 million illegal aliens here today—e.g. the official figure [PDF] for January 2012 was 11.4 million—WAAAAAAY MORE THAN WHEN WE STARTED WITH THIS NONSENSE IN 1986.
(Of course, counting illegal aliens is akin to the proverbial herding of cats. But regarding the number of illegal aliens here before the 1986 amnesty was inflicted upon us, we can probably infer it to have been about six million, using a U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service document from 2000, Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: 1990 to 2000. [PDF] I leave it to readers to look at footnote #1 along with Chart 1.)