The vilification of amnesty

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Amnesty hasn’t always been a dirty word. A 1986 law resulted in millions of undocumented immigrants obtaining permanent residency, with very little of the political polarization that informs the debate today. That the law was championed by President Ronald Reagan - Californian, Republican stalwart and father of the modern GOP – shows just how far down the partisan well we’ve fallen. Zocalo columnist Joe Mathews says Reagan knew something that present-day GOP lawmakers seem to have forgotten: that American needs immigrants, and that keeping millions of people in a Kafkaesque legal limbo leaves them vulnerable to exploitation.

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Joe Mathews