The Corner

Reagan-Era Pop Wonkery

The following is from a speech Stewart Baker, assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security, is giving right now at Heritage (the speech Kate referenced here). We’ll have a little more on the actual content tomorrow, but for now I just need to focus on his rad coolness:

I’d like to begin this talk on immigration reform the way I sometimes begin DHS meetings on the same topic – by quoting the pop band Bowling for Soup.  They sang about a woman named Debbie:   

Her two kids in high school,

They tell her that she’s uncool,

Cuz she’s still preoccupied,

With nineteen, nineteen, nineteen eighty five.  

These days, DHS is a lot like Debbie. We are too are preoccupied with the mid-80s.  Though if we were writing the song, we’d say we’ve got our attention firmly fixed – on nineteen, nineteen, nineteen eight-six. 

That was the year Congress enacted a major new immigration bill.  By almost all accounts that law was a serious failure.  So the question we’re preoccupied with is “What went wrong in 1986 and how can we make sure it doesn’t go wrong again?”

When most people think of the failures of 1986, they think of the millions of illegal immigrants who have come into the country since then, convinced that we won’t ever enforce our immigration laws.  That is a failure, and it has to be fixed…

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