For years President Bush and members of his Administration have been trying to redefine the word "amnesty" as it's been understood to apply to illegal aliens. The problem they've had is that there are enormous similarities between the Bush Amnesty and the Reagan Amnesty. The basic difference is that the Bush would legalize many millions more illegals than Reagan, though not as large a percentage of the total illegal alien population at the time of the amnesty. In order to foster misunderstanding of the President's amnesty plans for illegals, the facts about the Reagain Amnesty needed to be kept in the shadows.
Or, the Bush Administration could cross their fingers behind their backs and try to redefine the Reagan Amnesty away as well.
Well, they have. In a summary of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 (last updated in July of 2005), a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services webpage states:
The legalization program was not an "amnesty" but a "targeted program that balanced the offer of legalization with stringent requirements." (Baker at 26-27) Legalization applicants had to: prove to INS adjudicators that they had resided in the U.S. since January 1, 1982; pay a $185 fee for principal applicants, $50 for each child, with a $420 family cap; accept ineligibility for most public benefits for five years after application; and complete an 18-month period of temporary residency. After that, and only after successfully completing an English language and civics requirement within a year-long one-time window, and the payment of an $80 fee per applicant (with a $240 family cap), they were eligible to apply for permanent residency. In exchange, the applicant would be authorized to work, travel, and after becoming a permanent resident, petition for the immigration of certain family members.
Words, apparently, mean nothing. President Bush is to "amnesty" as President Clinton was to "sex."
Even Paul Gigot of the pro-illegal alien Wall Street Journal has a definition of amnesty for illegals that includes President Reagan's and that proposed by President Bush.
Can the Bush Administration be trusted to offer credible definitions of amnesty for illegals if they won't even acknowledge the Reagan Amnesty?