American Legion: Obama’s Immigration Plan a ‘Bad Sequel’ to 1986 Amnesty Law

By Patrick Burke | February 8, 2013 | 12:29pm EST

American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz. (AP)

( -- American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz criticized President Barack Obama’s proposal for immigration reform, calling it a “bad sequel” to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

“‘A bad sequel’ is how American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz described President Obama’s proposal to grant amnesty to people who are in the United States illegally,” according to an American Legion press release from Jan. 30.

“Whether it’s called ‘Pathway to Citizenship’ or some other euphemism, it’s still amnesty,” said Koutz. “It didn’t work when President Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and it will be even more disastrous if we repeat that mistake again.”

Koutz added that those who came to the United States illegally should not receive the special title of “American citizen.”

“What kind of message does it send to those who worked hard to become legal immigrants if we offer the same status to those who disrespected the process?” Koutz said. “‘American citizen’ is a special title that should not be bestowed upon people who broke the law to get it.”

On Nov. 6, 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Immigration Reform and Control Act that granted amnesty to all those who unlawfully entered the United States prior to Jan. 1, 1982 and can demonstrate they resided in the United States since coming here illegally.

Koutz also alludes to a May 2006 opinion piece written by Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese in the New York Times, in which Meese denounced the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

President Barack Obama speaks about immigration reform Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

“There is a practical problem as well: the 1986 act did not solve our illegal immigration problem. From the start, there was widespread document fraud by applicants,” Meese wrote in 2006. “Unsurprisingly, the number of people applying for amnesty far exceeded projections. And there proved to be a failure of political will in enforcing new laws against employers.”

President Obama released a plan for immigration reform on Jan. 29 that includes a “Pathway to Earned Citizenship.”

Illegal immigrants who are presently in the United States will be required to register with the federal government, pass a background check and pay various fees and penalties before obtaining “provisional legal status.”

Upon obtaining legal status, they will ultimately be able to apply for a green card and be eligible for U.S.  citizenship.

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