As the president prepares to roll out his planned executive amnesty on Thursday night, the mainstream media are eagerly pushing an administration talking point that former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush enacted executive amnesty too. That’s not true, and it’s hardly the only Obama talking point reporters are helping push.
The Associated Press published a story touting the phony Reagan-Bush talking points earlier this week, arguing that Reagan and Bush “have acted unilaterally on immigration” and “extended amnesty to family members who were not covered by the last major overhaul of immigration law in 1986.” The story adds:
Neither faced the political uproar widely anticipated if and when President Barack Obama uses his executive authority to protect millions of immigrants from deportation. Reagan’s and Bush’s actions were conducted in the wake of a sweeping, bipartisan immigration overhaul and at a time when ‘amnesty’ was not a dirty word. Reagan and Bush’s actions were less controversial because there was a consensus in Washington that the 1986 law needed a few fixes and Congress was poised to act on them. Obama is acting as the country–and Washington–are bitterly divided over a broken immigration system and what to do about 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally.
Liberal media outlets including the New Republic and Media Matters for America quickly rallied behind those talking points, as have top Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). White House press secretary Josh Earnest has pushed the talking points as well, tweeting on Monday: “Pres. Reagan used his exec authority to fix probs in the immigration sys. So did Bush 41. Obama will too – this year.”
Heritage Foundation legal expert Hans von Spakovsky, an expert on civil rights, civil justice, the First Amendment, immigration, election law and more, thoroughly debunked these claims in a story for Heritage’s The Daily Signal on Wednesday.
Spakovsky wrote that “this claim plays a bit fast and loose with history and fails to explain the significant difference between Obama going against the will of Congress,” with the idea being that Reagan and Bush carried out the will of Congress, but Obama is explicitly doing something Congress has repeatedly rejected.
Yes, Reagan signed an amnesty into law, the 1986 Immigration and Reform Control Act (IRCA)–and then he and Bush executively implemented Congress’ directives. Reagan, according to his attorney general Ed Meese, later claimed that the amnesty was his biggest regret–but that’s beside the point the mainstream media, liberal lawmakers, and the Obama administration are trying to make. What they’re trying to do–Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) executive director Mark Krikorian told Breitbart News–is obfuscate the facts so as to justify Obama’s unprecedented actions with no legal basis.
“It’s a good rule of thumb that any time liberals invoke Reagan, they’re up to no good,” Krikorian said in an email. “The administration and its media cheerleaders are grasping at straws when they point to minor actions by earlier administrations as precedents for their sweeping executive amnesty scheme. Obama proposes to lawless amnesty almost twice as many people as were lawfully amnestied by Congress in 1986.”
Krikorian added that another lie to expect from the media is that Democrats are somehow united behind Obama’s actions.
“While there are many anti-borders liberals for whom the end justifies the means, there are also people of good will who favor ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ but who value our constitutional order more,” Krikorian said. “In fact, several Democratic senators who voted for the Gang of Eight bill (which contributed to their defeat) nonetheless publicly opposed Obama’s lawless amnesty scheme.”
Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Al Franken (D-MN), for instance, have each come out publicly against the president’s planned executive amnesty. Outgoing Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) has said it’s completely normal for Republicans to seek to block funding for the bill, as many are pushing for. Democratic Reps. Ron Barber (D-AZ), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), and Cheri Bustos (D-IL) each came out publicly against it as well.
In addition to that, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid failed to get more than five of his other Senate Democrats to sign a recent letter to Obama backing him on it.
“The media class wants amnesty as badly as the political class,” a Senate GOP aide told Breitbart News. “That’s why there’s one executive action you won’t hear them mention: Eisenhower launching deportation sweeps to stop the border surge in his day.”
The aide is referring to how President Dwight D. Eisenhower, as explained in the Christian Science Monitor, aggressively ramped up deportations to get illegal aliens out of America. In “Operation Wetback,” CSM’s John Dillin wrote in July 2006, Eisenhower “quickly and decisively” ended illegal immigration “with only 1,075 United States Border Patrol agents–less than one-tenth of today’s force. The operation is still highly praised among veterans of the Border Patrol.” The story adds:
Because political resistance was lower in California and Arizona, the roundup of aliens began there. Some 750 agents swept northward through agricultural areas with a goal of 1,000 apprehensions a day. By the end of July, over 50,000 aliens were caught in the two states. Another 488,000, fearing arrest, had fled the country. By mid-July, the crackdown extended northward into Utah, Nevada, and Idaho, and eastward to Texas. By September, 80,000 had been taken into custody in Texas, and an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 illegals had left the Lone Star State voluntarily.
Eisenhower’s INS director Gen. Joseph “Jumpin’ Joe” Swing, a West Point classmate of the president’s and 101st airborne division veteran, discouraged future illegal immigration by sending the illegal aliens deep into Mexico instead of just dumping them back at the border.
“Unlike today, Mexicans caught in the roundup were not simply released at the border, where they could easily reenter the US,” Dillin wrote. “To discourage their return, Swing arranged for buses and trains to take many aliens deep within Mexico before being set free.”
Jessica Vaughan, a former State Department official and CIS immigration expert, told Breitbart News that Americans should expect the mainstream media to “base their stories on White House and amnesty advocacy group talking points” as they have over the past several immigration fights. Vaughan flagged a whole series of Obama talking points to expect from the media in the coming days, many meant to frame illegal aliens as harmless to Americans. Vaughan warns:
They will refer to the legalization as “relief from deportation” or “deferred deportation,” even though the vast majority of people face no real threat of deportation at all, under existing administration policies. They will emphasize that applicants will have to meet strict requirements such as “background checks” and “proving” their eligibility, even though in reality the agency makes no effort to verify anyone’s documents or claims and will excuse much criminal conduct–they will not even be interviewed. The media will emphasize that this is “prosecutorial discretion,” awarded on a unique case by meritorious case basis, when in fact the administration is not just looking the other way at infractions, but inviting them to come forward and apply for a benefit for which very few will be denied.
Vaughan also said to expect the media to claim Obama is focusing deportations on just criminals and won’t report on how all the illegal aliens Obama is granting amnesty to are working in jobs that could be filled by Americans who are out of work:
The media will say that the administration lacks sufficient resources to deport most illegal aliens, and that executive action will enable them to focus on criminals; that they will now be able to stop spending resources deporting harmless bus boys in favor of going after rapists. The truth is that they have always focused on criminals as a priority, but due to administration policies, actually fewer criminals are being deported since DACA was implemented, and tens of thousands of criminals have been released by ICE each year. The media will note that the President prefers for Congress to act, but they blocked the Gang of 8 bill so he needs to move forward, without noting that the Gang of 8 bill was unpopular with the public and the House did consider several bills, and passed one to address the border surge in 2014–which the Senate refused to consider.
Vaughan added that the media will claim “record deportations” under Obama, something that also isn’t true.
“The media will trot out the discredited administration claim of ‘record deportations,’ when in fact deportations have been slipping since 2011, due to administration efforts to dismantle enforcement,” Vaughan said. “The media will quote the new Pew Hispanic Center report showing that the size of the illegal population dropped from 2009-2012, without mentioning that it was already dropping significantly from 2007-2009, but started increasing again from 2010 to the present, and increased even more after the border surge of 2013-14.”