Reagan’s Immigration Reform Was ‘True Amnesty,’ Group Says

Christopher Goins | January 31, 2013 | 11:01am EST
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FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2013 file photo, supporters of granting illegal immigrants drivers licenses cheer after a House committee hearing at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

( – The Hispanic Leadership Network said that when discussing immigration reform, conservatives should not use President Ronald Reagan’s 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act as an example applicable today.

“That legislation was true amnesty; in addition, border security, fixing our visa system, and a temporary worker program were parts of the reform which were never implemented,” the group said.

The group, which is an initiative of the "center-right" American Action Network, made that recommendation among several others in its “Suggested Messaging Dos and Don’ts of Immigration Reform.”

The group asked conservatives to consider “tonally sensitive messaging points” when discussing immigration and suggests they move past the “negative tone and harsh rhetoric that has hurt conservatives in the past.”

“I wouldn’t say it is for political correctness,” said Jennifer Korn, executive director of the Hispanic Leadership Network.

Korn, who served under President George W. Bush as the director of Hispanic and Women’s Affairs in the White House, said that she’s seen first-hand what has hurt conservatives in the fight for immigration reform.

“We think that they are helpful, because these are the pitfalls that have hurt us in the past,” she said. “And they’re not constructive.”

Democrats have been able to take advantage of the Republicans’ harmful rhetoric, Korn said.

“They take everything and say ‘look how conservatives are anti-immigration,’” she told in a telephone interview.

Korn stressed that in her personal experience she’s found that there are more conservatives that are for immigration reform than those who are not.

The Hispanic Leadership Network Advocates These Actions in Six Areas ( quotes HLN's document completely below):

When engaging in conversation or doing an interview on immigration reform:

-Do acknowledge that “Our current immigration system is broken and we need to fix it”

-Don’t begin with “We are against amnesty” (Note: Most everyone is against amnesty and this is interpreted as being against any reform.)

When talking about a solution for the millions here without documentation who could qualify to get in line first with a temporary visa, then legal residence and finally citizenship:

-Do use the phrase “earned legal status.”

-Don’t use the phrase “pathway to citizenship.”

(Note: This has a different meaning and can denote getting in front of the line to get citizenship – this is not true. Most Republicans and Democrats, along with 70% of Americans, support a fair system by which those who are undocumented can come forward, register with the government, pass a background check, pay a fine, learn English and get legal status first – that is earned legal status, not automatic citizenship.)

When addressing securing our borders:

-Do use the wording “enforcement of our borders includes more border patrol, technology, and building a fence where it makes sense.”

-Don’t use phrases like “send them all back”, “electric fence”, “build a wall along the entire border.”

When talking about immigrants:

-Do use “undocumented immigrant” when referring to those here without documentation.

-Don’t use the word “illegals” or “aliens.”

-Don’t use the term “anchor baby.”

When addressing amnesty and earned legal status:

-Do acknowledge that the true meaning of amnesty is to pardon without any penalty.

-Don’t label earned legal status as amnesty.

-Don’t characterize all Hispanics as undocumented and all undocumented as Hispanics.

When broadly addressing reforms:

-Do acknowledge that President Obama broke his promise and failed to propose any immigration reform for five years, while using this issue as a political wedge.

-Do talk about the issues you support like overhauling the bureaucratic visa system, creating a viable temporary worker program, a workable e-verify system, and border security.

-Don’t focus on amnesty as a tenet of immigration reform.

-Don't use President Reagan's immigration reform as an example applicable today.

(Note: That legislation was true amnesty; in addition, border security, fixing our visa system, and a temporary worker program were parts of the reform which were never implemented.)

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