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Ronald Reagan’s Position on Immigration

September 15, 2011

Contenders for the Republican Presidential nomination often invoke Ronald Reagan in debates and speeches. He is the most famous conservative standard bearer in recent memory and has often topped a Gallup Poll of the greatest Presidents as chosen by the American public.

His policy positions during his tenure in the 1980s differ, however, from the contemporary Republican Party. During this summer’s impasse over raising the debt ceiling, many pointed out that President Reagan raised taxes a number of times when confronted with a federal budget shortfall.

His position on immigration would be considered outside the mainstream of his party today: “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,” he said.

The Wall Street Journal had a strongly-worded editorial this week on “Republican Overregulation” of immigration, stating, “Republicans claim they oppose only illegal immigration but the truth is that many have grown hostile to all immigration. This has major economic costs at a time when the U.S. needs more investment and jobs.” The editorial is critical of House Judiciary Chair Lamar Smith’s Legal Workforce Act proposal and the effect of employment verification proposals on the agricultural sector.

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