No, Obama's amnesty plan isn't anything like what Reagan and Bush did

Leftist talking points on the president's amnesty plan include the curious notion that both President Reagan and President H.W. Bush also used "deferred prosection" to amnesty illegal aliens

Writing in National Review, Mark Krikorian demolishes that ridiculous argument:

It’s interesting that the anti-borders crowd seems to have conceded the point I made in August that most past executive grants of status to illegal aliens were the consequence of foreign crises in the illegals’ home countries and thus not relevant to the current discussion. These were, as Ross Douthat’s trenchant column pointed out Sunday, “modest, clearly defined populations facing some obvious impediment (war, persecution, natural disaster) to returning home.”

So the fallback position of those claiming precedent is to grasp at two actions taken by Reagan and the elder Bush that came in the wake of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) amnesty.

Nice try.

The Reagan administration action that amnesty advocates point to is simply irrelevant to the current case and trumpeted only because Reagan’s name is attached to it. In what was a legitimate exercise of prosecutorial discretion shortly after passage of the 1986 law, INS announced that as a practical matter it would look the other way under certain circumstances with regard to minor children both of whose parents received amnesty but who did not themselves qualify for the amnesty. It granted no work permits, Social Security numbers, or driver’s licenses. In the context of trying to implement the convoluted IRCA amnesty, I might well have done the same thing.

George H. W. Bush’s 1990 “family fairness” policy is at least somewhat germane, in that it provided for renewable “voluntary departure” (i.e., amnesty) for certain spouses and children of amnesty beneficiaries, including work authorization. But it is no precedent either, for three main reasons:

First, its size and scope. Despite claims at the time that “as many as 1.5 million” illegal aliens might benefit from the policy, the actual number was much, much smaller. In 1990, Congress passed legislation granting green cards to “legalization dependents” — in effect codifying the executive action Bush had taken a just few months earlier. That (lawful) measure actually cast the net wider than Bush’s action, and yet only about 140,000 people took advantage of it — less than one-tenth the number advocates claim. Scale matters here; Bush’s action cannot meaningfully be described as a precedent for Obama’s scheme that would be 30 or 40 times larger.

Lefties seem to have a problem with the idea of scale. They couldn't understand that Obamacare's massive intrusion into health care was such a big deal, and Republicans were crazy to object because they supported some of Obamacare's tenets back in the 90's. The fact is, the scale of what Republicans proposed was considerably more modest than Obamacare's gargantuan intrusions.

Similarly, the president's amnesty plan is so much broader and effects millions more people than anything Reagan or Bush ever dreamed. Of course it makes a difference - a huge difference. There is no underlying cause to grant this sort of blanket amnesty to any illegal aliens. It is simply a political move designed to please an important Democratic constituency.

Krikorian concludes:

Whatever their merits, the Reagan and Bush measures were modest attempts at faithfully executing legislation duly enacted by Congress. Obama’s planned amnesty decree is Caesarism, pure and simple. “Precedent” isn’t the right word for the Obama crowd’s invocation of Reagan. The right word is “pretext.”

It's amazing the excuses being made for Obama's unlawful actions.The crisis at the border can be fixed without encouraging millions more people to come, hoping eventually for the same treatment. And Republicans are likely to propose much stricter border controls when they are in the majority next year.

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