Things You Hear on NPR: Yeah, Amnesty Did Lead to More Illegal Immigration; Let’s Do It Again Anyway

April 2, 2017

NPR reviews some of the history of American immigration law, and reaches some admirably honest conclusions:

illegal immigration history, NPRThe Simpson-Mazzoli Act was introduced as a way to end illegal border crossings once and for all. It had three parts: Give amnesty to those who had been in the country for at least five years, crack down on employers who hire people who can’t legally work here, and pump up border security to prevent future illegal crossings.

President Reagan supported the bill and signed it into law in 1986. Three million people were granted amnesty under the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, but by 1990 the number of unauthorized immigrants was back up to 3.5 million.

“Border enforcement never really kicked in in any significant way until about a decade later — the mid ’90s,” Meissner says. “Then, the real centerpiece of it, which was employer sanctions, was very weak. There was not really an effective way to enforce employer sanctions and lots of ways for both employers and workers to get around it.”

Moreover, those who had been in the U.S. less than five years weren’t eligible for the amnesty.

“So those people who couldn’t apply for the legalization program became the seedbed for today’s 11 million,” Meissner says.

(Emphasis added.)  In other words, as conservatives always predict, the amnesty was real, but the increased enforcement (which was part of the deal to get the amnesty passed at all) never materialized—and the amnesty led to even more illegal immigration.

But that won’t stop NPR from continuing to call for another amnesty.  Even in this article (from the headline to all the captions on that graphic), they don’t even like to talk about illegal immigrants, preferring the dainty euphemism “unauthorized immigrants”.  In other articles, when they’re not talking about the 1980s/Reagan amnesty, they try to avoid using the word “amnesty” at all, preferring the very euphemistic “comprehensive immigration reform”—while also selectively citing polls to make it sound as though American voters are on their side.  (While polls do tend to show majority support for some form of amnesty, polls also tend to show majority support for deportationsecuring the border first, before any amnesty; and reducing overall immigration levels.)

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