Proof That Illegal Immigration Was Worse Under Ronald Reagan Than It Is Under President Obama

reagan-obamaAccording to Fox News, and pretty much any conservative you run across, President Obama has refused to enforce our immigration laws which has led to a record number of illegal immigrants rushing to our borders.

Of course that statement sounds troubling – and it would be – except the facts simply don’t support it.

Currently, President Obama is on pace to deport more illegal immigrants than any president in United States history.  I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me, how is he “soft on illegal immigration” while simultaneously deporting more undocumented immigrants than any other president before him?

That brings us to the notion that Obama’s policies have led to a record number of illegal immigrants flooding our borders.

Another right-wing talking point that’s completely untrue.

In fact, on average, we’re seeing over 600,000 fewer attempts per year by illegal immigrants trying to cross our border under President Obama than we saw under Ronald Reagan.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, during Reagan’s eight years we saw an average of 1,056,500 illegal immigrants try to cross our border every year.  Under President Obama, that number is down to 417,000.

And I know some Republicans will say, “Well, it’s because Obama isn’t enforcing our laws.  Reagan did.  That’s why Reagan caught more.”  That’s nonsense.  You could only use that argument if Obama’s deportation numbers were low as well.  But being that he’s on pace to deport more undocumented immigrants than any other president, it’s preposterous to claim that he’s not enforcing the law at the border yet somehow managing to deport more that are already here than any other president.

In fact, during Politifact’s investigation they concluded:

The apprehension figures, even allowing for changes in tactics, show an average of over a million attempts by people to cross the border during the Reagan years. For Obama, the average is about 417,000.

If we count the size of the undocumented population, the best estimates are that it rose 200,000 per year under Reagan. The highest estimate for Obama is 120,000 per year.

So even in per year growth illegal immigration numbers under Reagan were almost twice what they currently are under President Obama.

And while Republicans constantly try to stir up fear about Obama’s attempt to give immigrants a path to citizenship, they always fail to mention the fact that in 1986 Ronald Reagan signed an immigration bill which included amnesty.

Oh, and for the record, the 1,615,844 million illegal immigrants that tried to cross our border in 1986 (the same year he signed his amnesty law) marked the highest number during Reagan’s eight years.

Tell me again, whose policies encouraged illegal immigration?

I guess to summarize all of this:

  • President Obama is on pace to deport more illegal immigrants than any other president in history.
  • The rate of our year to year growth of our illegal immigrant population is lower under President Obama than Reagan.
  • The number of illegal immigrants trying to cross our border is drastically down from Reagan’s eight years.
  • Reagan signed an immigration law which included amnesty the same year he saw the most illegal immigrants try to come into the United States during his entire presidency.

So the next time a Republican goes off on a rant about the president who was soft on immigration and whose policies encouraged more illegal immigrants to flood our borders, remind them that they should really be talking about their “conservative icon” Ronald Reagan, not President Obama.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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