Ed Driscoll

No, Reagan Didn't Offer Amnesty By Lawless Executive Order

“Democrats across print, web, and cable media have been repeating the claim that Obama is doing nothing more than what Presidents Reagan and Bush 41 did first.” Not true, Gabriel Malor writes at the Federalist:

In 1986, faced with a large and growing population of illegal aliens, Congress created a new, time-limited form of immigration relief for certain aliens who, among other things, had to have come to the United States more than six years previously. This is the much ballyhooed Reagan amnesty. It was, unfortunately, riddled with fraud in its execution, the uncovering of which is still roiling the immigrant community. But even setting that aside it left President Reagan with a moral dilemma. Congress’ amnesty was large—just shy of 3 million people—and it had the unanticipated effect of splitting up freshly-legalized parents from their illegally-present minor children who did not qualify for relief.

So Reagan, seeing this family unity problem that Congress had not anticipated or addressed when it granted amnesty to millions of parents, issued an executive order to defer the removal of children of the people who had applied for immigration amnesty under Congress’ new law. He allowed those children to remain in the United States while their parents’ applications for amnesty were pending. A few years later, Bush 41 extended this bit of administrative grace to these same children plus certain spouses of the aliens who had actually been granted immigration amnesty under Congress’ new law.

Congress, though it had desired to grant amnesty, had not considered and not included the spouses and children. Importantly, nor had it excluded them. So Presidents Reagan and Bush 41 filled that statutory gap. “What do we do with spouses and children?” INS asked. “Well,” the executive branch leaders said, “defer their deportation. Decline to exercise your lawful authority for the particular cases that are related to those Congress has offered amnesty.”

These Reagan and Bush 41 executive actions were obviously different than what Obama is doing now.

Read the whole thing.