What Reagan said about undocumented immigrants
- A bipartisan group of senators has outlined an immigration overhaul that would include a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants. A similar bill was signed into law in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, a hero to many in the conservative movement.
- With much of the opposition to the new proposal likely to come from the right, you may hear one of these five quotes from Reagan to make the case for changing immigration law, especially given President Barack Obama's penchant for quoting him.
'The illegal alien fuss'
- (AP Photo)
- In a Nov. 29, 1977, radio address, Reagan criticized the U.S. Department of Labor for requiring apple growers in New England to hire Americans, a policy it dropped when not enough could be found to do the work.
- "When the Labor Department is forced to relent and let these visitors do this work it is of course all legal. But it makes one wonder about the illegal alien fuss. Are great numbers of our unemployed really victims of the illegal alien invasion or are those illegal tourists actually doing work our own people won't do? One thing is certain in this hungry world; no regulation or law should be allowed if it results in crops rotting in the field for lack of harvesters."
'Put down roots'
- (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
- In an Oct. 21, 1984, debate with Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale, Reagan endorsed a comprehensive immigration overhaul that Congress was debating.
- "I supported this bill. I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and who have lived here even though sometime back they may have entered illegally."
'The right to legally live here'
- (AP Photo/Ira Schwarz)
- In a July 2, 1984, interview with San Antonio TV reporters, Reagan again endorsed the immigration overhaul.
- "We want to be very careful that while we have safeguards to prevent employers from hiring the undocumented workers, that at the same time there is no discrimination against those who will be legalized under this bill, those who may still be undocumented but who've lived for a long period of time, put down roots in our society. We want to give them the right to legally live here and those who, as you say, are citizens."
'Protected and legitimized'
- (AP Photo/Scott Stewart)
- In a Nov. 13, 1985, interview with the Spanish International Network, Reagan called for a path to permanent residency for undocumented immigrants to be added to the immigration overhaul being considered in Congress.
- "For one, we very much need in any immigration bill -- we need protection for people who are in this country and who have not become citizens, for example, that they are protected and legitimized and given permanent residency here. And we want to see some things of that kind added to the immigration bill."
'Step into the sunlight'
- (AP Photo/Barry Thumma)
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