Amnesty is defined as an act of forgiveness for past offenses, especially to a class of persons as a whole. Amnesty is a dirty word in political circles if you are a republican, but a vote getting policy if you are democrat. Most democrats I know portray it as the compassionate and caring thing to do to protect families. Democrats want amnesty, and push it as a way to get more votes whether they want to admit it or not. Why wouldn’t an illegal immigrant want amnesty and then in turn vote for the party that gave it to them? That is just simple human nature. It isn’t necessarily nefarious behavior on the part of the immigrant, but it is on the part of Democrats. It is tragic that they use this issue, and manipulate entire people groups to get votes, and this behavior extends far beyond immigration. Just look at Abortion, and the Equal Rights movement.
I have witnessed this manipulation since I first got interested in politics in high school in the early 90’s. Amnesty is a double edged sword when you examine it. One the hand it is billed as the compassionate answer to immigration since it keeps families from being torn apart. I believe most Americans do not want to see families ripped apart. As a whole I believe American’s appreciate immigrants who come here, and put down roots. Immigrants who work to become productive members of society, and have a an appreciation for the ideals of American life. The other side of sword is the utter disrespect for the American rule of law, and it is a slap in the face to immigrants who choose to come to America legally. In my lifetime I have had the opportunity to meet so many immigrants who came to America legally. Most of them came as students and later became naturalised Americans. One such person is Bernard Guitier. Bernard is originally from France, but has been an American citizen since the early 90s. Bernard has become a successful restaurateur, and has been one of the more productive citizens I have met. He has stayed connected to his roots as a Frenchman, but is wholly American. When I think of all he went through to become an American the idea of Amnesty frustrates me. Why go through the process if all you need to do is cheat the system long enough until someone gives you amnesty? In my opinion this cheapens the efforts of every immigrant who followed the law, and became a naturalized citizen. Then there is the issue that amnesty basically makes breaking the law ok with little to no penalty. As a Republic built on the rule of law this behavior turns the foundations of our laws on their head. Allowing groups of people to circumvent the law without consequences creates a slippery slope for society. If you allow one law to be broken where do you draw the line? What happens when a group of people break a law that most people don’t feel the effects of and push for amnesty on a compassionate argument? Who draws the line on what laws are ok to forgive with amnesty, and which are not? History shows us that if a group of people wait long enough, their cause can raise to the level of a political movement that will benefit them, and others like them.
In our nation’s history Congress has passed eight amnesty bills. The first was passed under Ronald Reagan in 1986. The second was in 1990 under George H. W. Bush. The other six were passed under Bill Clinton in 1994, twice in 1997, 1998, and twice in 2000. The bill signed into office by Reagan is known as the Immigration and Reform Control Act or IRCA. The bill was a response to the quickly growing number of illegal immigrants in the US. The bill was seen as a massive compromise, and it essentially wiped the slate clean for illegals living the country. The 2 major groups impacted were illegal immigrants living in the nation since at least January 1st 1982, and those who had worked more than 90 days as an agricultural worker between May of 1985 to May of 1986. To balance itself out it included measure to increase border security. The ended up giving approximately 2.8 million people citizenship, but the border control aspects were seen as a failure or were never implemented. In the 1990 Immigration Act, an additional 160,000 spouses and minor children of aliens amnestied under IRCA were granted amnesty as well. These 160,000 aliens are not included in the total numeric impact of the amnesty. The first amnesty bill signed into law by Bill Clinton was the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1994. The act was set to sunset in September 1997 but was extended to the end of 1997. By the end of 1997 an estimated 578,000 immigrants were given amnesty. Also in 1997 President Clinton signed The Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act or NACARA. The original bills that were introduced in the House and the Senate, H.R. 2302 and S. 1976, would have benefited only certain Nicaraguans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans. Cubans and Eastern Europeans were added later to mollify the anti-Communist sentiments of some members of Congress. The 10-year impact of the NACARA Amnesty on U.S. population growth is estimated to be 966,480. In 1998 President Clinton signed The Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act or HRIFA. HRIFA was an amnesty program for Haitians. It was passed in the aftermath of the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA), when representatives of a long list of nationalities not included in NACARA claimed that it was discriminatory to refuse them the same special treatment. Haitians are the first group to succeed with this claim. As with NACARA, proponents of HRIFA sought to avoid a full congressional debate of the bill and so added it as an amendment to the omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 1999 (H.R. 4328), which was passed by both houses of Congress. HRIFA granted permanent resident status to any Haitians who had been in the United States since December 1995, along with their spouses and children, as long as they applied before April 1, 2000. Haitians granted amnesty under HRIFA were not counted against legal immigration ceilings, and no legal immigration ceilings were reduced to make up for the extra number of permanent immigrants. The 10-year impact of the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act on U.S. Population growth is estimated to be 125,000. In 2000 The Late Amnesty Act was the result of an agreement between the Clinton White House, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. The “late amnesty” allowed all illegal aliens who had been part of lawsuits claiming that they have been illegal aliens since before 1982, and should have received amnesty under the 1986 IRCA amnesty, but for various reasons were denied, to renew their request for the amnesty. The Late Amnesty of 2000 applied to an estimated 400,000 illegal aliens. The LIFE Act of 2000 that was passed in December, 2000 reinstated Section 245(i) for the first four months of 2001 (Jan-April). The House Immigration Subcommittee estimates that 900,000 aliens applied for adjustment of status in the first full year of the reinstatement.
“Suppose 20 millions of republican Americans thrown all of a sudden into France, what would be the condition of that kingdom? If it would be more turbulent, less happy, less strong, we may believe that the addition of half a million of foreigners to our present numbers would produce a similar effect here.” -Thomas Jefferson