The Federation for American Immigration Reform has put together video excerpts from the 1986 amnesty debate, including revealing comments by people still in the game:
Chuck Schumer was in the House at the time, and had this to say about the bill’s effects:
What is it not? It is not millions of people cascading across the border. . . . It is not welfare benefits for those folks immediately. It is not . . . immediately, wives, husbands, children would come across.
Well, maybe not immediately, but soon enough. Some were more perceptive (or more honest). Jim Sensenbrenner, for instance, saw through the sham deal:
It is amnesty for literally millions of illegal aliens masked in the cloak of protecting the borders of the United States. . . . So what we have when this bill passes and plays out in five years are no employer sanctions left but millions of people who are on the road to citizenship and will be eligible for public assistance and free public education because they are here under color of law.
Bill McCollum identified the long-term problem caused by large-scale amnesties:
We’re saying we’ve done it once now and we’ll probably do it again.