For those who wonder why I’m a Republican, let’s take a look at what the term used to mean back when I was a kid.
This is what Ronald Reagan said about immigration and border security when running for President in 1980:
Rather than talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems? Make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit, and then, while they’re working and earning here, they’d pay taxes here. And when they want to go back, they can go back. They can cross. Open the borders both ways.
That’s right. Reagan’s approach to working with Mexico was to “open the border both ways.”
While reviewing Reagan’s comments, look at what George Bush, the senior Republican in the state of Texas at the time was saying about how to treat those here illegally:
If they’re living here, I don’t want to see…six- and eight-year-old kids being made, one, totally uneducated, and made to feel like they’re living outside the law. Let’s address ourselves to the fundamentals. These are good people, strong people. Part of my family is Mexican.
What makes these comments even more striking is the context. Reagan and Bush made these statements when they were competing for the Republican nomination in 1980. Better yet, this exchange happened during a debate in Texas just before the Texas primary. Freer borders and providing an education for undocumented immigrants was the platform that both Republican candidates thought they needed in order win over Texas Republicans.
A generation later, why such a stark change? Back then, Dixiecrats like Rick Perry were still Democrats while the Elizabeth Warrens of the world were still Republicans. That’s what’s changed.
More detail and the actual footage from the debate where that occurred is available from our good friends at Reason online.