Donald Trump’s Friday morning claim that Ronald Reagan tried to have a border wall built has no actual basis in reality, the Connecticut Post is reporting. In fact, Reagan’s immigration policy has more in common with that of modern Democrats than it does with Trump’s hard-line stance.
In a series of tweets Friday morning, Trump continued to push for money for a border wall, even as a government shutdown over the issue looms. Although the House of Representatives has provided the president with a stopgap spending bill that provides $5 billion for a border wall – in spite of Trump’s promises that Mexico would pay for the wall – the bill is unlikely to make it past the Senate.
In trying to drum up support for the wall, Trump tweeted that presidents before him, including Ronald Reagan, have tried to get a wall built along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Even President Ronald Reagan tried for 8 years to build a Border Wall, or Fence, and was unable to do so. Others also have tried. We will get it done, one way or the other!”
In fact, Ronald Reagan did no such thing.
In a 1980 debate with the man who would later become his Vice President, George H.W. Bush, both men were asked about border security and immigration. Reagan stated that immigration was a good thing that should be encouraged. He dismissed talk of putting up a physical barrier between the two nations.
“Rather than… talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems and make it possible for them to come here legally, with a work permit, and then while they are working and earning here, they pay taxes here? And when they want to go back, they can go back, and they can cross. And open the border both ways, by understanding their problems – this is the safety valve right now they have with that unemployment.”
Happy first day of winter! pic.twitter.com/KDb15vrPMP— Reagan Foundation (@ronaldreagan40) December 21, 2018
That’s not to say that Reagan didn’t pass any immigration reforms; in fact, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 represented six years of work by the 40th president to tighten up the nation’s immigration laws. However, the act focused less on physical border security and more on removing the incentives that attracted illegal immigrants in the first place.
Specifically, the act made it a felony for an employer to knowingly hire someone who was in the country illegally. However, the act failed to provide any real means of enforcement, and to this day several undocumented workers go about their workdays while their employers look the other way. In fact, none other than Donald Trump himself has been accused of hiring illegal immigrants, including one who claimed that she and several others work at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago and other Trump properties.