Skip to main content

See also:

Ronald Reagan and the Republican hypocrisy over illegal immigration

nti-Immigration activist Kim Bailey (C) talks to immigrant rights protesters along Mt. Lemmon Road in anticipation of buses carrying illegal immigrants
nti-Immigration activist Kim Bailey (C) talks to immigrant rights protesters along Mt. Lemmon Road in anticipation of buses carrying illegal immigrantsPhoto by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Republicans and conservatives around the country are cheering a great wall to be built at the border while crossing their fingers over a pipe dream of an Obama impeachment. Despite their fantasy, their own past might leave them with their jaws dropping.

November 6, 1986. That date might not seem to special to many people but it was the day that then President Ronald Reagan put pen to paper and signed into law the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Also known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, for Democrat Rep. Romano L. Mazzoli and Republican Sen. Alan K. Simpson who chaired their respected subcommittees, Reagan signed the bill into law with the hopes that the immigration issue would be taken care once and for all.

Among some of the bills provisions, it granted legal status to nearly 3 million illegal immigrants who entered the country before January 1, 1982 as long as they followed a plan to pay back taxes and fines. It also came down on employers who knowingly hired undocumented workers, while also attempting to secure the border. A noble effort, the results weren't as promising as fraudulent applications soured the bill's intentions, opening the door for more employees to hire a growing number of illegal immigrants entering the country.

Immigration reform has been a hot topic as Washington continues to make it the elephant in the room when it comes to today's current process. Everyone seems to know that it's an issue that must be tackled, but both sides of the political aisle get worried about the fallout. While Democrats argue over how far to take the immigration issue, Republicans question if they as a party can even afford to get it done. The overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants come from south of the border and the Republican party sees no light at the end of the tunnel if they stick with the status quo.

As the Hispanic population continues to grow, so does the voting base. According to the Pew Research Center, 11.2 million Latinos voted in the 2012 election, just over 48 percent of those who were eligible.

"Latino population has fueled quick growth in the number of Latinos eligible to vote (U.S. citizen adults). Between 2008 and 2012, the number of Latino eligible voters grew from 19.5 million to 23.3 million—an increase of 19%. By contrast, the number of Latino voters increased by 15% over 2008."

Republicans find their party at a political crossroads. They still cater towards an aging southern white population that doesn't typically support immigration reform, but they also know that if they want to have a chance in national elections moving forward, they can't appear to hard on immigration. Ronald Reagan gave it shot in 1986, but if he was doing that today, conservatives would be screaming "impeachment" with every movement of the signature of his pen. High profile Republicans, such as former VP candidate Sarah Palin, have called for President Obama's impeachment, but if they look back at their favorite leader's history, they might tone their rhetoric down or risk being called out over their own hypocrisy.