(Heritage Foundation) -- Experts can’t always predict exactly how public policy will affect the nation, despite our best efforts. But when it comes to immigration policy, we have tried many of the types of reforms advocated by today’s Gang of Eight—so we should consider the effects these reforms had in the past.
In the mid-’80s, many Members of Congress advocated amnesty for long-settled illegal immigrants. President Reagan considered it reasonable to adjust the status of what was then a relatively small population, and as his attorney general, I supported his decision.
The path to citizenship was not automatic. Immigrants 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.
Advertisement - story continues below