Donald Trump

Reagan vs. Trump: "Let [illegals] come here legally with a work permit [and] they'd pay taxes here…Open the borders both ways"

Reagan was in favor of legalizing illegal immigrants. What the hell happened to the GOP? Bill Clinton was in favor of free trade. What happened to the Dems?


Back in April, Reason TV released the video above as part of a special "Open" issue, which celebrated the virtues of things ranging from open source, open minds, open markets…and open borders.

Donald Trump's candidacy—and the entire Republican field's willingness to sign on to nativist plans to deport undocumented immigrants and force us all to run our employment opportunities via an invasive E-Verify employment system—has brought the question of illegal immigration to the forefront of campaign speeches. Indeed, Trump's first official white paper deals with the issue (read Robby Soave's quick take on it here and mine here).

While emotions on immigration run hot, the facts are pretty clear-cut: Immigrants (including illegals) are good for the economy and good for the country. So is free-er trade, as embodied in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Trump, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and a bunch of Republicans too have dumped on. Hello, Fortress America and goodbye to the ideals of openness and engagement that helped make America a great country. (And a note to Trump: The TPP excludes China; it is a way of gaining leverage against that country by creating easier trade with a dozen countries.)

If there's one thing that virtually all economists agree on, it's that reducing trade barriers creates a richer, more prosperous, and more peaceful world. Former advisers to both George W. Bush and Barack Obama have signed an open letter urging fast-track approval of the Trans Pacific Partnership for the same reason that Adam Smith touted free trade in The Wealth of Nations: "It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy." As it is with families, so it is with nations….

If Hillary Clinton doesn't want to listen to Adam Smith—or her former self—she might listen to her husband, who signed the North American Free Trade Agreement over the objections of his own party back in 1993. "we have made a decision now that will permit us to create an economic order in the world that will promote more growth, more equality, better preservation of the environment, and a greater possibility of world peace," he said.

If the Democrats are driven nuts by the idea of open markets, Republicans go bananas over the notion of open borders. Virtually all GOP contenders for the Republican presidential nomination have called for a "time out" or a slow down on immigration until they say the border with Mexico is fully secured.

And most want only to let in immigrants with work skills that they say will help the economy and not take away or lower wages for low-skilled, native-born workers….

Think about it: Republicans routinely complain that the government can't deliver the mail or educate children, but they're convinced that government bureaucrats can perfectly adjust the mix of foreign workers in the vast and complicated American economy.

Yet even economists who are critical of immigrants with low skills recognize that they don't take jobs from native workers. Instead, they head to the places where the economy is booming and employers are desperate for extra bodies. And they stop coming or go back home when the work dries up, especially if they know they'll be able to cross borders safely and legally.

Anti-immigrant sentiment and protectionism tend to bubble to the top during economically stagnant periods, so the appeal to closing borders to goods and people is somewhat understandable. But maybe those urging us to hunker down and build a wall along the Mexican border would like to listen to Ronald Reagan on the subject:

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.

Read Reagan's full quote, which he made during a 1980 debate with George H.W. Bush, and watch the whole video.

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  1. “Mr. Trump, tear down this wall.”

    1. Ich bin ein Sie alle sind gefeuert!

      1. Google Translate wird gefeuert!

    2. Ahhhh, Now I get it. Nick believes it’s still 1984 (The jacket is now explained).

  2. Open Borders is based on the assumption that public property is public property to everyone…. not just U.S. citizens and invites ! I’m willing to call that concept socialism.

    1. Congratulations. You just figured out that public property = socialism.

    2. All public property is theft.

      1. and meat is murder

        1. I’ll grant you its murder, but the real question is “who is going to stop me?”.

          1. “Without suffering, there is no flavor”

            I once explained to a vegan that the real attraction of chicken wings was the primal re-enactment of having recently ripped them from the host, and imagining their screams of desperate struggle as you gnawed on their tendons.

            Not really, of course, but it did make her cry, which was itself delicious.

            1. Vegan trolling is the best. Watching as their pseudo-moral code gets roasted and they turn into emotional sacks of shit is quite a sight.

            2. Not really, of course, but it did make her cry, which was itself delicious.

              So how long have the two of you now been married?

      2. Is it theft if it was acquired in a voluntary transaction?

  3. We don’t even need truly open borders. We just need borders that are easy to cross for peaceful people who want to build a better life for themselves (something we all benefit from).

    1. Up until the US repealed the “Texas Proviso” in 1965, Mexicans came here to work for a while and then went back to Mexico to return to their families. Since the 1965 immigration reform, it’s become harder and harder for low skilled foreigners to come here and work so instead of sojourning, they cross the border once and stay.

    2. Which is what most people mean by “open borders.”

      1. We just need borders that are easy to cross for peaceful people who want to build a better life for themselves (something we all benefit from).

        Also known as “High fence, wide gate.” I’m all in favor of it, but I don’t pretend that there isn’t a (metaphorical) “fence” in there to keep out the diseased, the criminal, and (this is the punchline) those who don’t want to build a better life for themselves, but sponge off of taxpayers.

        That last one is the philosophical premise for much of our current immigration mess. Unless you are indifferent to, or supportive of, immigrants getting on the welfare rolls, you are going to need some way of keeping them off. At which point, we’re now arguing about how, not whether, to have laws about who can come here, why, and how they can stay.

        1. those who don’t want to build a better life for themselves, but sponge off of taxpayers.

          I have an idea. How about, rather than worrying about who comes here or doesn’t, we worry about eliminating the government programs people sponge off of. I have no particular affinity toward domestic sponges.

          1. eliminating the government programs people sponge off

            Building an impenetrable fence along the border is more feasible than this. Once an entitlement is in place it not only NEVER goes away, it gets bigger and bigger. Attempts to slow the growth of these programs is depicted as a desire to kill poor people and children and would be political suicide.

          2. I’m witcha, Bill.

            But is this one of those Lucy with a football deals, where we throw the borders open now, and get rid of welfare later?

            1. which is exactly what the dems did to Reagan

              1. Nick conveniently ignores that Reagan’s quid of amnesty was tied to a quo of border security which, shockingly, did not happen.

                1. And Reagan, later, regretted his decision to go along with the amnesty, because it made things worse.

      2. Tell that to the posters here go apoplectic about open borders because they think it means an immigration free for all, complete with diseases and terrorists.

        1. So lay out what “open borders” means in enough detail to make the concept clear.

        2. Using force to stop a diseased person or a person with a criminal history from crossing a border is a violation of the NAP.

          If you’re OK with making exceptions to the NAP due to pragmatic concerns, I don’t see how you can turn around and denigrate someone who makes different exceptions for going against the principle.

  4. The only reason Democrats support the unimpeded flow of immigrants from the south is because they know they’ll get at least 75% of their votes. The Republicans have literally nothing to gain but everything they to lose if this continues. It’s that simple.

    1. Maybe immigrants wouldn’t vote 75% Dem if the leading Republican candidate for president didn’t demonize them.

      1. George W. Bush spoke very highly of Latinos yet the vast majority voted for the guy who wasn’t a Republican. Most Latinos are socially conservative and agree with Republicans more than the Democrats. But the media has been effective at painting Republicans as racists, long before Trump said a word. Plus, newly-immigrated people from poor countries will vote for whoever is willing to give them more stuff.

        1. W still did way better than others among Latino voters. He got 40% of the Latino vote in 2004 and by 2012 it was down to 27%. A 13% swing in a large and growing demographic can make all the difference in states like NM, CO, NV, and to some degree FL.

          1. And Reagan signed off on the amnesty and the number of hispanic votes for GHW Bush went DOWN.
            So much for saying/doing nice things to get the vote.

      2. The two republican presidents that got the highest percentage of the Latino vote were GW Bush and Richard Nixon.

        Two true libertarian stalwarts.

    2. Yep. You cannot have open borders and a welfare state at the same time:

      Pew Research Center: Hispanic Politics, Values, Religion

      Support for a larger government is greatest among immigrant Latinos. More than eight-in-ten (81%) say they would rather have a bigger government with more services than a smaller government with fewer services.

      1. Paid for by someone else, of course.

      2. I don’t want a welfare state, so the desperate pleas to save it don’t move me at all.

      3. Yes. They’re just like the Progressives who flee to more Conservative states and then proceed to transform that state into the place they just left.

      4. Is there really any evidence that immigrants are driving the push for gradle-to-grave welfare? Because it seems like we’re headed in that direction at the behest of the luminaries on the left who embraced Sandra Fluke’s moronic position and who genuinely believe that government, not industry, showers them with iPhones and cheap gasoline and Netflix and soy lattes. Eloi, in other words. Maybe Latinos exacerbate the problem, but that’s a far cry from suggesting that progressives would be spinning their wheels without gullible immigrants. Especially if we hope to convince them that a future of joblessness and zero-growth rate and sclerotic bureaucracy isn’t a great deal for the poor.

        1. Is there really any evidence that immigrants are driving the push for gradle-to-grave welfare?

          You know who pushed for dreidel-to-grave welfare?

        2. I don’t think so.

          Mexico has cradle-to-grave welfare (PRI is a member of Socialist International) and a lot of them are coming here because jobs aren’t available unless you’re related or know to someone in government or bribe someone.

          The Mexicans coming here are ones willing to take a risk to better their lives and have the means to do so. They’re not looking to turn the US into Mexico but they do bring their assumptions here ? you have to bribe officials, you make deals under the table, banks are usurious so everything done in cash, etc., etc.

          Mexicans pull the D lever because it’s the Democrats who are doing outreach and telling them the Republicans are rich white supremacists want to send them back to crushing poverty (being lower upper class in Mexico is like being upper lower class in the US) and the Republicans who do want to do exactly prove it.

      5. People who feel vulnerable want government (or someone) to take care of them. The only way to shrink government in a democracy-ish country is to convince them that they can–when allowed to–do better in a freer market than they can with government largess.

        1. Personally, nothing makes me feel less safe and more vulnerable than a massive, omnipresent government that has the power to arbitrarily give us everything–or take it all away (including our lives) with impunity. I’ve long believed the only supporters of Socialism are those who realize they have nothing of value to offer the world, and they’ll never amount to anything. Their only chance to prosper is to vote for people who will take the wealth of others and give it to them.

        2. Mexicans and Latin Americans have a different conception of government than Americans.

          To Americans, even libertarians, government is us. To our Latin American friends government is exogenous to the people. In short, it is ‘them’. So asking poor people if they should get something from an exogenous group that has oppressed them in the past , will get a predictable answer of yes. Where as Americans are more likely to ask who will pay for it.

    3. The Republicans have literally nothing to gain but everything they to lose if this continues.
      The Republican Party has nothing to gain. “Republicans”, those of the business-owning sort at any rate, have quite a bit to gain and the gain can be tabulated in dollars and sense. Making dollars makes sense. Which is, as P J O’Rourke points out, part of the problem in comparing Democrats and Republicans – Democrat’s best and brightest go into politics, Republican’s best and brightest go into business. The reason the GOP is literally ‘the Stupid Party’ is because any Republican with any sense is too busy making money to care much about politics, which means most of the Republicans in politics are the ones too stupid to make money in business.

      1. So, does that mean you support Trump? He’s shown he’s capable of making money, and is likely pretty smart. Personally, I don’t care who wins so long as it’s not Hillary, or the majority of the SoCons running on the Republican side.

        1. Donald Trump is a New York real-estate mogul. You can’t build a model airplane in NYC without a shitload of permits and inspections and licenses and fees, without knowing who gets the envelope full of twenties and who gets the check made out to “Committee To Re-Elect…”. The fact that Donald Trump gets to build in NYC is pretty damn good evidence that he’s a businessman about the same as all the businessmen in Moscow. (He admitted as much in defending his donations to Hillary, “I’m a businessman and this is how business gets done.”) Trump is the permanent cover model for Crony Capitalist Weekly.

          1. Trump is the permanent cover model for Crony Capitalist Weekly.

            So, he understands how the system works and manipulates it to his own benefit? Sounds pretty smart to me. Although I despise Crony Capitalism, I can’t fault the guy for taking advantage of something that was established long ago. And would Trump really be any worse for the US than a Community Organizer who never had a real job?

            1. Yeah, I don’t get that line of attack.

              It’s literally blaming the guy who has bribes extorted from him instead of the recipient that’s been doing the extorting.

  5. Bill Clinton was not ever a supporter of free trade.

    NAFTA was government managed trade, and he probably creamed his shorts at the thought of all the commerce coming into Federal control as a result.

    1. Exactly. “Free trade” agreements don’t live up to the name.

      1. Real Free Trade doesn’t require government intermediation.

  6. Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

    How’d that work out for Reagan and the country?

    1. This is interesting.

      Is this a Tulpa sock or a Todd Gakk sock?

      Milo Mindbender was the horrible Army Air Corps officer in Catch 22 famous for turning the U.S. army air corps and the Luftwaffe into elements of a giant transnational smuggling enterprise that made him rich and resulted in such absurdities as the U.S. army air corps bombing one of its own air bases as a contract job on behalf of the Germans.

      In short Milo made the puppets dance for his personal gain, and was the smart man moving in a sea of stupid people. This would support both the Gakk and the Tulpa hypothesis.. Now, Milo was a terrible fellow, and Catch 22 is very much an antiauthoritarian book, which would make it quite unpopular with Giuliani libertarians like Tulpa.

      On the other hand Todd Gakk doesn’t care about open borders and hates the commentariat more than he hates Gillespie.

      So, if this were a roulette wheel, my money would be on a Tulpa sock, with the name chosen from Catch 22 as a way of delaying detection.

      1. Or maybe I’m a Catch-22 fan and former Open Borders Libertarian who has changed his views

        1. and former Open Borders Libertarian who has changed his views

          Come on Tulpy-poo, lies don’t become you.

          Actually they do, but I would appreciate it if you would put some effort into keeping them from being laughably implausible. I don’t expect honesty from a dishonest shit, but would appreciate him respecting me enough to at least make the lies non-obvious.

        2. Well the joke is on you then, Catch 22 sucked.

      2. It’s Tulpa. His recent sockpuppet naming convention is use some antagonist from fiction, because that’s how he sees himself, a brave contrarian standing up to people who agree on very little other than the fact the Tulpa is a prime shitheel.

        1. I’ve been commenting here for years.

          Here’s the first one that came up on a Google search


          1. So, you went back in time to make a post bolstering your flimsy story that you’re not who people here claim you are? I suppose you win this round. Well played, Milo. Well played…

          2. Years? That was like a year ago.

      3. The ‘Tulpa’ accusation thrown at everyone that disagree with the official narrative makes the accuser look retarded and cultish.

        Try rebutting the points he makes or just ignore him if you can’t.

        1. there is a cyclical nature to this, it seems. There was the White Indian/Mary Stack thing, followed by Tulpa, and then the Bo. A bit like this immigration/security debate, the old periodically becomes new.

    2. Reagan supported amnesty that was going to be followed up with immigration control. Had the 2nd part happened, we wouldn’t be where we are now.

      1. Exactly.

        Give me what I want (amnesty) now, and I’ll give you what you want (a secure border) later.

        People remember that Reagan took this deal, and got royally screwed. That’s why the extreme skepticism about the very same deal being offered now.

        The current proposals are all variations on Lucy holding the football for Linus. Only this time, Linus remembers how it ends.

        1. You had me right up until “for Linus”.

          CHARLIE BROWN, shitlord.

          Linus would have to fight off Snoopy for possession of the blanket.

        2. Lucy held the ball for Charlie Brown.

          1. Dammit.

            Pedant WIN. Commenter fail.

      2. “immigration control”

        Why does anyone thing this is a thing any more than “Drug Control”?

        1. This is what’s always confused me.

          Message to “immigration control” people:

          The border doesn’t stop anyone. Doesn’t now, hasn’t ever, isn’t going to.

          Political theater.

    3. Reagan is now some sort of demi-god among Republicans, so it seems to have worked out well for him.

      1. Reagan is now some sort of demi-god among Republicans

        I’m not sure why. Reagan’s libertarian streak was miles wider than anything the GOP offers today.

        1. Selective memory.

    1. Let’s throw vegan vs omnivore in there too.

      1. Vegan abortions are the worst.

        1. Because you can’t slather them in artisanal mayonnaise?

      2. I find it interesting some vegans support abortion.

        1. I’m still trying to convince the vegans that suicide is a more-moral choice because it reduces the needless suffering of soybeans

          1. Easy there, there are plenty of Malthusian vegans that would like nothing better than for man to go extinct.

            1. I really feel like they should have confidence in their convictions and start mulching themselves before making any demands on the rest of society.

              1. *wheels in industrial mulcher*

                1. “Mulcher”? You’re not fooling me.


        2. That’s because the fetus is just being killed, and not eaten. And that’s one less potential carnivore to prey on the innocent wildlife.

      3. As long as you stay away from teh deep dish pizza. That’s bottomless.

  7. Because I don’t give a shit about the modern GOP.

    Randy Simmons managed the creation of Washington state’s historic legal pot system. He’s moving to a new job, feeling the thrill is gone as the new industry becomes like so many others.


    The nascent industry seemed to change after stores opened last summer, he said. “With people hiring lobbyists, it shifted from ‘let’s do something exciting’ to like everything else in American society, ‘what can I get for me?’?”

    The subtext here is yes, these people really are this fucking retarded.

    The state puts one guy in charge of “creating” a market (hint, you can’t ‘create’ a market for something that already has a functioning market) for “legalized” marijuana. Builds heavy-handed, Soviet-style regulatory system that picks winners and losers, then wonders why people hired lobbyists to make sure they get into the winners column.

    God these people are so fucking retarded that in a just world, they’d be blowing leaves off the sidewalk in front of my house.…..-moves-on/

    1. It’s economic creationism!

      1. It’s funny you say that, because I’ve argued several times that we have sitting members of the city council who believe in the economic equivalent of Creation Science, and no one calls them on it. All they get is mealy-mouthed platitudes from the Seattle Times about how a “populist voice” on the council is necessary.

        You know, there’s a certain amount of populism in deporting Mexicans back to their homeland, but I’m guessing the Seattle Times doesn’t mean that kind of populism.

        1. Well, the article is economically creationist:

          Randy Simmons managed the creation of Washington state’s historic legal pot system.

          Have you ever read Reason‘s “The 4 Boneheaded Biases of Stupid Voters”?

          I like to call the four biases Creationism, Xenophobia, Sysphism, and Pessimism.

    2. …they’d be blowing leaves off the sidewalk in front of my house.

      No justice, no leaves?

      1. No leaf-blower either.

  8. Why is Jack Kerouac wearing a Don’t Panic tee shirt?

    1. You mean Dan Aykroyd?

      1. And why is he filming in his basement?

        1. Also, why is there a headless corpse propped up in the corner?

    2. More importantly, why is Kerouac wearing Nick Gillespie’s jacket?

  9. 1) Did Reagan in 1980 know everything *we* know – including knowing about the results of his 1986 immigration bill?

    2) Are we to be held to whatever Reason believed in the 1980s? If so, remember it was his 1986 bill which added employer sanctions for hiring illegals. Which has started us down the path to “papier, bitte.”

    1. “Paper, please?” What’s that mean?

      1. He doesn’t want plastic?

  10. Without reading the comments…

    Open borders for people who want to work
    No open borders
    No open borders until the welfare state is dismantled
    OT gay marriage/abortion post from Eddie
    Democrats only want immigrant votes
    Republicans should court those votes
    Republicans are stupid if they try.

    1. also, i hate mowing my own lawn

      1. Is that a euphemism for personal grooming?

        1. oh, i completely enjoy pube grooming. I use the same clipper setting on my head & beard for simplicity’s sake.

        2. I like to refer to it as “cleaning up my crime scene”.

      2. also, i hate mowing my own lawn

        You don’t immigrants for that, that’s what “goatscaping” companies are for!

    2. Open Borders for Democrats who want to move to Mexico

  11. Since when are secretive trade deals between governments considered free trade? By definition, free trade would require the absence of government intervention

    1. Which is why Nick wrote “free-er trade, as embodied in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)”.

      1. But then what’s with all the references to Adam Smith? Screaming Adam Smith doesn’t transform cronyism into free trade all of a sudden.

  12. The TPP is NOT beneficial to free trade. No one knows what’s in it except a few privileged bureaucrats. Rumors abound, for instance, that it forces the US copyright regime on TPP signers. That’s hardly good for free trade.

    1. C’mon now, don’t you know that protectionism is one of the basic tenets of free trade?

      1. You know, if we really had a good government trade system I’d gladly trade Hillary or Trump straight up for Hitler or Mao. (Offer valid only as long as Hillary and Trump are still alive and Hitler and Mao are still dead.)

    2. But you should totally trust Obama and the bureaucrats to expand economic liberty, despite all evidence to the contrary, because your a big ole mean racist if you don’t.

  13. I can tel you what the hell happened. there is a difference between illegal and legal learn that and all questions will be answered.

  14. The welfare state creates illegal immigration – by pulling low-skilled Americans out of the job market, the void is filled by low-skilled immigrants. Since the current “legal” immigration system is designed to keep low-skilled immigrants out, without solving the labor supply problem, the path of least resistance is followed and low-skilled Mexicans cross the border illegally.

    Part of the reason Latinos support the Dems is that the Dem proposals all create additional illegal immigration which can only help a Latino politician’s power base. (A union leader is a politician, too.)

    Eliminate the minimum wage and suddenly the bathrooms get cleaned by Americans, probably teenagers.

    1. “Since the current “legal” immigration system is designed to keep low-skilled immigrants out, without solving the labor supply problem, the path of least resistance is followed and low-skilled Mexicans cross the border illegally”

      ^^ This. Fences don’t fix incentives.

    2. so, of course, our political masters go the other way, with calls to increase the minimum. Because something.

  15. Reagan was sorry he granted amnesty for 300,000 that turned into 4 million – and they
    never stopped invading….

    and please define ‘Free Trade’

  16. Reagan was sorry he granted amnesty for 300,000 that turned into 4 million – and they
    never stopped invading….

    and please define ‘Free Trade’

    1. My thoughts on free trade are the same as with open borders. If it isn’t reciprocal, then fuck it.

      1. no…thats what happens to the people

        and its not fair for the US

  17. Everyone talks about ‘open borders’ but there’s no such thing.

    A one-way open border doesn’t do ME a whole helluva lot of good. Can I relocate to, work in , and become a citizen of any country I want?

    Maybe in theory open borders is an outstanding (even natural) idea, but in reality 1) we have a giant goody filled entitlement system and 2) It only works one way.

  18. What the hell happened to the rule of law?

  19. Reagan wanted to do two things:
    1. Grant amnesty to all the illegals currently in the U.S., and
    2. Shut down the border as airtight as possible so that ten years later the country wouldn’t have yet ANOTHER 15 million illegals clamoring for another round of “immigration reform.”

    The Democrats fought him tooth and nail over the second part, and prevented that from happening.

  20. Reagan was sold a pig-in-a-poke by the usual suspects, just as he was with the concept of a full-time legislature in CA, and emptying the wards in the mental hospitals….
    he had a big heart sometimes showing why he was originally a Dem.
    I do remember though that he had some stern words about how, on this issue, as on many others, he felt the Democrats in Congress had betrayed him in their actions after-the-fact.
    Remember, part of Simpson-Mazzoli was “workplace enforcement” with penalties for employers who hired workers not eligible to work in the USA – something that the Congress refused to fund under both Dem and GOP leadership.

  21. What happened to the Dems??? Greed and Corruption just like all the rest.

  22. Hate to break it to Nick, but both NAFTA and this TPP thing isn’t real “free trade” or “libertarian” what it is is crony capitalism, plain and simple, another form of statism. The trade involved would only benefit the well connected, that is why I am against both.

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