The fact that the Trump administration has not acted on its campaign promise to halt the DACA temporary amnesty has resulted in a resurgence of speculation that the administration may be amenable to adopting a full-scale amnesty. Some reports have identified DACA recipients and some other illegal aliens from Central America with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) as candidates for legal status in exchange for some measures of increased enforcement against illegal immigration such as mandatory work eligibility verification (E-Verify) and border barrier construction.

What appears to be missing from this speculation is the underlying conviction held by most Americans that immigration is welcome only if it is moderate and within legal provisions. The lesson that must be remembered from the 1986 amnesty (IRCA) was that amnesty may have the effect of increasing illegal immigration especially when new measures that are supposed to counteract it are exposed as being toothless.

The only clear message that will deter illegal immigration is that it will not be tolerated and the government and the public have the will to enforce the law against it.

What is forgotten is that not only does an amnesty for illegal immigrants give them legal permanent residence, it also gives them the ability to sponsor their extended family members under our current immigration system.

Even if the president and the politicians do not have the political will to undo the years of coddling illegal aliens – by ignoring them or by granting them some temporary legal status such as TPS or DACA – any discussion of a full amnesty is likely to repeat the folly of the IRCA amnesty. Politicians continue to be attracted to negotiations where amnesty is on the table by the delusional expectation that the problem of illegal immigration can be solved by rewarding past lawbreakers and promising to be tough on future lawbreakers. Despite evidence that the IRCA amnesty fueled a new wave of illegal immigration, another massive amnesty would open a new flow of immigration of relatives who come from the same backgrounds.

If the objective of immigration reform against illegal immigration is to succeed, the pressure for adoption of an IRCA-style amnesty must be resisted.