Edwin Meese (remember him?) penned an article in Human Events, in 2006, arguing that Ronald Reagan would not champion amnesty if he had to do it all over again.
Well, who knows, right?
Anyway, here's how Meese describes the supposed one-time only amnesty worked back then (which is similar to what advocates of comprehensive immigration reform want now):
"He (Reagan) also agreed with the legislation in adjusting the status of immigrants — even if they had entered illegally — who were law-abiding long-term residents, many of whom had children in the United States. Illegal immigrants who could establish that they had resided in America continuously for five years would be granted temporary resident status, which could be upgraded to permanent residency after 18 months and, after another five years, to citizenship. It wasn’t automatic. 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."
Here's how it turned out: "There was extensive document fraud, and the number of people applying for amnesty far exceeded projections. And there was a failure of political will to enforce new laws against employers. After a brief slowdown, illegal immigration returned to high levels and continued unabated, forming the nucleus of today’s large population of illegal aliens."
Nearly 3 million illegals were given amnesty due to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.
And amnesty begets amnesty. It's costly, too!
B&W photo of the former attorney general