The icon whose visage and legacy shows up whenever more than two Republicans get together to pound on Democrats isn't likely to be much in evidence today or in the coming days as GOPers trash President Obama's executive order on young immigrants. That icon, of course, is Ronald Reagan.
Here's Reagan on Oct. 28, 1984, in his debate with Walter Mondale:
"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."Amnesty was a big part of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 that Reagan signed two years later. As a consequence, 2.9 million undocumented workers came out of the shadows and legally became what they already were in spirit: U.S. citizens.
That's the same spirit found among hundreds of thousands of young people in the United States today. Brought here by their parents in some cases before they were even old enough to be called toddlers, they are, in every respect save one, Americans. They have obviously "put down roots" here. Deporting them to the countries of their birth—places where many of them don't speak the language or understand the culture and often have no affinity for at all—is profoundly cruel punishment, penalized for a crime they didn't commit by the government of the country that is their home.
But, as Republicans have proved by opposing the DREAM Act, they are perfectly willing to thumb their nose at Reagan when it suits their purpose.