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The dangerous legacy of the 1986 amnesty for illegal aliens—illegal becomes legal

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By Frosty Wooldridge


Part 1:  illegal becomes legal, lawlessness becomes lawful


Twenty five years ago, President Ronald Reagan signed an amnesty meant for 1 million illegal aliens to gain citizenship.  Instead, over 4.1 million illegal aliens applied for and received citizenship for crossing over US borders illegally.


Later, Reagan said, “The amnesty was the worst mistake of my presidency.”


My long time friend Rick Oltman, long time immigration activist looks back on what happened to America when the amnesty passed.  You can find his work at .


Give us an overview of what happened in 1986:


“November 6, 2011, marks a dubious anniversary in the history of America,” said Oltman.  “On that day 25 years ago President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). Also known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, it was an amnesty for illegal aliens, the effects of which we live with today.


“IRCA was the most comprehensive reform of our immigration laws since 1952. In 1981 the Reagan Administration asked Congress to pass a comprehensive legislative package that included employer sanctions, other measures to increase enforcement of immigration laws, and the legalization of illegal aliens. The Employer Sanctions program was supposed to be the key element that would remove the incentive for illegal immigration by eliminating the job opportunities that were, and are, the number one reason that illegal aliens come to our country.


“Whatever its intention, it is undeniable that the IRCA Amnesty of millions of illegal aliens failed to solve the problem of illegal immigration. Instead, the legalization of people who broke our laws and sneaked into our country and were allowed to jump the line in front of legal immigrants only encouraged more illegal immigration by creating a worldwide expectation that if you could just get to the United States, that you too would eventually get amnesty.


“The plan was controversial at the time. There were doubts that it would work. It was remarked by some that the bill was proceeding amid massive confusion about how it would work, how much it would cost, and how many people it would amnesty.


“In June of 1984, amidst the Presidential campaign, three candidates for the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination — Walter Mondale, Gary Hart, and Jesse Jackson — opposed Simpson-Mazzoli.


“Cesar Chavez, who had his union members calling the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to report illegal aliens working in the fields so that they could be deported, encouraged the U.S. government to include provisions in the Immigration Reform and Control Act (1986) applying sanctions against employers who knowingly hired illegal aliens.


“How many would apply for, or qualify for, amnesty was never known, nor even closely estimated. In 1981 the estimate was 1 million illegal aliens in the country. By 1984 that estimate had been raised to 1.6 million. Depending on the cutoff date, prior to which the illegal alien could apply, some estimates were raised to 2.2 million.


“In 1984 it was believed that the total number of illegals in the country, not all of whom would qualify for the amnesty, was, “somewhere around 6 million.” Some experts, according to Time (June 2, 1984), estimated that the real number of illegals in the country in 1984 could be as high as 12 million.


“If the number 12 million seems familiar, it is. It is the number that is most used in discussions today by those who want to mask the reality of the immigration anarchy that our government’s failure to enforce our laws has wrought.

This anecdotal chronicle of the 1986 IRCA Amnesty contains points of view from three men who were involved with the amnesty process and immigration enforcement during the amnesty period.

“Bill King ran the amnesty program in the Western Region. His service to the country includes; Chief Patrol Agent of the Border Patrol Academy, Acting Chief of the Immigration Academy, and Chief Patrol Agent of the El Centro, CA sector.

He remembers that the original talk about an amnesty began in early 1981. It was determined early on that whatever the number of illegals was, they were going to need a bureaucracy to adjudicate the amnesty and people to run it. The INS reached out to retired U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) and INS supervisors, including King, who began to huddle up in 1985 to figure out how to do it.


“Bill King, Ed Wildblood, Bill Zimmer, and Jim Bailey, one for each INS Region, began discussing the process in late 1985 and went to the Central Office in Washington, D.C. in early 1986 to begin planning what it would take to make it work. With an estimated 1.5 million applicants, they decided that they had to open 112 offices and hire over 2,000 people. They brought back into the Service a number of retirees and had to develop training programs and establish liaisons with cities and federal law enforcement.


“By law, they had 180 days after President Reagan signed the bill on November 6 to be up and running to begin accepting amnesty applications. All the offices in the country opened on May 5, 1987. It was a Herculean effort.


“The INS ran the operation. Harold Ezell, Western Region Director, and Bill King did seven press conferences in seven cities in two days on the amnesty. “The people we hired did a hell of a job,” says King. The Immigration and Naturalization Service in those days was a stepchild in the federal law enforcement community and was perennially underfunded by the Department of Justice. “It was believed to be the greatest undertaking ever by INS.”


For more information, visit



In a five minute astoundingly simple yet brilliant video, “Immigration, Poverty, and Gum Balls, Roy Beck, director of www.numbersusa.ORG, graphically illustrates the impact of overpopulation.  Take five minutes to see for yourself:


“Immigration by the numbers—off the chart by Roy Beck

This 10 minute demonstration shows Americans the results of unending mass immigration on the quality of life and sustainability for future generations: in a word “Mind boggling!”


This is the best website to start: ; watch Roy Beck’s “Immigration by the Numbers” at 14 minutes. Bi-partisan and very effective. Become a faxer of pre-written letters to your reps to make positive  change.


Visit for the best information on what we face as a civilization as to overpopulation, energy, immigration and much more.


Canada ; in Australia and[email protected]; in Great Britain ; and dozens of other sites accessed at   In Florida, .

Must see DVD: “Blind Spot” , This movie illustrates America’s future without oil, water and other resources to keep this civilization functioning. It’s a brilliant educational movie!


Must see: Rapid Population Decline, seven minute video by Dr. Jack Alpert-


Must see and funny: ;
Dave Gardner’s Polar Bear in Bedroom: ; Dave Gardner, President, Citizen-Powered Media ; Producing the Documentary, GROWTH BUSTERS; presents Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity, Join the cause at ;760 Wycliffe Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80906 USA; +1 719-576-5565


Check out this link with Wooldridge on bicycle and Lester Brown and panel discussion:


Tomorrow’s Americaproject on

Producer: GEORGE A.

DC: 202-258-4887


Email: [email protected]

Link to for more discussions on America’s predicament.



Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents – from the Arctic to the South Pole – as well as six times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. He presents “The Coming Population Crisis in America: and what you can do about it” to civic clubs, church groups, high schools and colleges. He works to bring about sensible world population balance at He is the author of: America on the Brink: The Next Added 100 Million Americans. Copies available: 1 888 280 7715

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