Some GOP presidential candidates have recently tried to exploit the immigration issue by accusing their opponents of supporting “amnesty.” As a matter of fact, none of the Republicans backs amnesty the way Reagan did in 1986—granting quick legal status to those who had entered the country illegally, inevitably encouraging more illegal immigration.
Today’s Republicans, even those endorsing immigration reform, demand improvements in border security first, and would impose a long, hard path on all those who sought permanent legal status—including payment of fines, back taxes, full background checks, demonstrated fluency in English and a return to the back of the line before any application for citizenship.
The real division among Republicans involves mass deportation, not amnesty. Like most Americans, most GOP candidates reject the idea of deporting 11,000,000 illegals and their families as practically inconceivable and politically impossible.
Those who promote that idea mislead the electorate with a demagogic concept outside the Republican – and American – mainstreams.