Redefining the Term “Amnesty”

Thursday, our CEO Mike Needham said that Heritage Action would welcome a discussion about the real meaning of the word “amnesty” and whether the Gang of Eight bill is amnesty.  Amnesty proponents – including some folks who call themselves conservatives – like to parade around telling the world that this amnesty bill isn’t amnesty because the illegal immigrants who would be granted registered provisional immigrant status are penalized and have to jump over “hurdles.”

In a blog yesterday, Mike Needham made things really clear:

The appropriate focus is on the process of acquiring registered provisional immigrant (RPI) status.  This legalization process begins when the Secretary of Homeland Security submits two plans to Congress, a mere six months after enactment, and is open to nearly every illegal immigrant who has been physically present in the country before January 1, 2012.  After acquiring RPI status, formerly illegal immigrants will have legal status in the United States, allowing them to work, live, and travel abroad.

THAT’S AMNESTY, in case anyone was confused.

Do “penalties” and “hurdles” make amnesty not amnesty?

Having to pay $500 to remain here legally for 6 years – which calculates to $7 per month – is not a real penalty.   So, “Not only will illegal immigrants have their slates wiped clean, they will receive a near-immediate benefit as a result of their illegal status.”

To be clear, their slates are being wiped clean.  It doesn’t get clearer than going from “illegal” to “legal.”  

Heritage characterizes amnesty as something that “discourages respect for the law, treats law-breaking aliens better than law-following aliens, and encourages future unlawful immigration into the United States.”

How does Heritage define amnesty?

Broadly, though it “comes in many forms,” it means that an alien who entered the country unlawfully, or who entered lawfully but whose authorization to remain has expired is now allowed to remain here lawfully.  The conditions upon which the transition occurs here can vary, but with any form of amnesty, the illegal alien is now lawfully here. 

In 1986, President Reagan granted amnesty to 3 million people.  The borders were never made secure, and we have 11 million illegal immigrants who are the legacy of the 1986 amnesty.   Supporters of the Gang of Eight’s amnesty are trying hard to make a substantial distinction between what happened in 1986 and what’s happening today with the Gang of Eight bill. Karl Rove claims that the 1986 law “essentially told those here illegally that if they had arrived in the U.S. prior to 1982 and wanted to become citizens, simply raise your right hand.”  Today, Rove asserts, is different because now there are “penalties and hurdles.”

Former Attorney General Edwin Meese under President Reagan annihilates that false claim (sub.req’d):

Well, I was there in ’86. I read that bill carefully. (We did that back then.) And I can tell you that Mr. Rove’s blithe description of the bill is way off the mark.

He continues:

The 1986 act didn’t turn illegal immigrants into citizens on the spot. It granted temporary resident status only to those who could prove they had resided continuously in America for five years. After 18 months, their status could be upgraded to permanent residency, and only after another five years could they become U.S. citizens.

But advancement to citizenship was not automatic. Immigrants had to satisfy various requirements along the way. They had to pay application fees, learn to speak English, understand American civics, pass a medical exam and register for military selective service. Those with convictions for a felony or three misdemeanors were ineligible.

Sound familiar? It’s pretty much the same “penalties and hurdles” set forth by the Gang of Eight. Today they call it a “roadmap to citizenship.” Ronald Reagan called it “amnesty.”

Whether it’s our friends trying to redefine “amnesty” or Karl Rove trying to rewrite history to fit a political agenda, the folks pushing the Gang of Eight’s amnesty are just wrong, and that won’t help advance real solutions to our failed immigration system.  On that note, another wise recommendation from Attorney General Meese is in order: “On legislation as important as this, lawmakers must take the time to read the bill, not rely on others’ characterizations of what it says.”

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11 thoughts on “Redefining the Term “Amnesty”

    There should be no immigration reform that is not PRIMARILY BASED ON REPATRIATION and ELIMINATION OF MAGNETS, anything else is doomed to fail from the start.The incentive to invade our country for gain must be removed.

    If they have nothing to gain they wont come, and if here already, will leave.

    Republicans looking to “amend” this garbage without that in mind are agreeing to and endorsing amnesty. The republican platform says no to amnesty of any sort. Support the platform.

    No matter how you parse words, if it is not repatriation, it IS amnesty. Stop with the liberal and rnc establishment talking points.

    Eliminate the magnets and enforce laws and most will not need to be “rounded up”.

    Did they have to be “rounded up” and brought here? no they didn’t.

    They came here looking to loot our wealth and lifestyle while destroying our culture. take that away from them and they will leave. You dont do it by giving green cards.

    Immigration reform:
    prosecution of, and loss of federal funding to sanctuary cities
    fines and prosecutions for employers of illegals
    no anchor babies.
    end chain migration
    no jobs.
    no housing.
    no schools.
    no hospitals
    no votes.
    no anything.
    everything in English and active repatriation with forfeiture of assets if caught here while illegal

  2. Pingback: Amnesty by any other name… | Designs on the Truth

  3. They are giving away our Freedoms to socialist countries by civilian invasion and they are proud of it! Mexico sent millions to our country as a civilian invasion. They did this because their economy was in the toilet. Our government is giving away our freedoms and rights, the right to vote by citizens for one, and they are proud of it.

    • They won’t be happy until our country is shit too, and with Obama at the helm, it won’t take long. He will dump all of our politicians! What would he need them for? Our Congressmen believe this terrorist! Our country has a
      disease. Have you seen the brand new pennies? Next Obama will have his picture on one of our bills! Sick! Sick! Sick! Anyone voting for Amnesty will not get any votes from any of my 600 friends!

  4. Illegal aliens with criminal convictions are being released into the population now-Is that going to suddenly stop with this new bill? They get welfare benefits in the form of the child tax credits (often faked.) and they will continue to get them-plus a “Rubio phone” as I’m hearing it called.
    Congress got the funds to build a fence-but didn’t build it-President Bush didn’t build it either-Are they going to suddenly commit to building it now? Of course not. Our government has turned rogue, supporting law-breakers. Doesn’t seem to be much we can do about it except form a third party, which will put the Dems in total control.. Carl Levin is my senator. No point calling him, as he has been for illegal immigration for decades. Gary Peters (the lying weasel) will win his seat-and be worse if anything.
    I believe Dems are using Rubio as a fall guy-when crime increases and traffic fatalities from these careless alien drivers it will be the Republicans’ fault. Mexican illegal aliens are also known for child predation in Florida. Now Rubio will never win any election for President. He’s lost my support. The RNC is indeed a huge part of the problem.

  5. Going along with anything that Obama wants has become a destruction map to this country. If Obama wants something, it’s only to destroy our country, NOT help it!
    Following Obama has become taboo! He has put a hex on our country!

  6. Can we get anyone to show up at this important event.

    This Wednesday, June 19, in Washington D.C. there will be an open
    forum that will feature “border security, anti-amnesty members of
    Congress.” The debate is slated for 9AM to 12PM and then again from 2PM
    to 5PM. In between, members of Congress will join with an
    already-planned Tea Party rally against the Internal Revenue Service’s
    targeting of conservative organizations. Glenn will be joining the event
    and speaking at noon.

    “There are 70 Republicans now in congress that we sent there,” Glenn
    said. “They’re standing up this week and they’re about to be

    “I think there will be five people in Washington this week on
    Wednesday because it’s, you know, it’s a Wednesday. It’s in the middle
    of the week. Who does this? It’s costing me a fortune to be able to get
    the TV and everybody up there to be able to ‑‑ to be able to just cover
    it, let alone speak up there. I’m flying a few of my pastors and my
    priests and my rabbi friends up with me for an announcement with the
    Black‑Robe Regiment. That’s not something I want to do. Last thing I
    want to do is get back on an airplane and travel up to Washington D.C.
    and stand there and be a part of that.”

    “There are many things I don’t believe in anymore, and Washington is
    one of them. And I despise that city now. Because it has just become a
    symbol of corruption to me, a symbol of grotesque growth, where the rest
    of us are suffering in the rest of the country,” he said.

    “But I will go and stand, and I ask you to do the same.”

    Glenn has not asked people to attend an event like this in Washington, D.C. since Restoring Honor on August 28, 2010.

    • Just who are the anti-amnesty members of congress? I know many give lip service to the thought but then they all are willing to consider amnesty as long as there is border security. The novel idea of no amnesty AND border security doesn’t seem to get any attention unless you are a taxpayer.

  7. I live in Idaho where we have had a history of illegals infesting our small towns during harvest. For the past twenty years though fewer and fewer of the illegals returned south of the border. Now we are over run with them, they completely ignore the laws, federal, state and local. When they need to relieve themselves they do it where ever they feel the need no matter where or when. They are apprehended during the commission of crimes and they are released on bail and scurry away as fast as possible but not across the border. Now they have put hard working American Citizens out of work because the Federal Government will do nothing to stop them. Construction workers now dispossessed and losing everything due to the illegals but the government, state and federal, does nothing but tsk tsk tsk and shake their heads. We need some honor in our government and we aren’t getting it from either party. Ryan, Rubio and Rand Paul are more than willing accomplices to the foreign invasion by the Mexican government, yes invasion by a foreign power since Vincente Fox and his Foreign Minister printed pamphlets of instructions how to cross the border and attain assistance from the US Government. That in my book constitutes an invasion by a foreign power but the cowards in Washington have done nothing but make promises they have yet to deliver on. But I am paying taxes to fund their cowardice? Something needs to change and it shouldn’t be me.

  8. Pingback: … “Amnesty” and English … « Lake Erie Conservative

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