As President Trump visits the border to make the case for a massive wall, supporters are circulating a bogus quote from former President Reagan seemingly supporting the idea

“A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation,” the quote from Reagan found on Facebook posts reads.

However, FACT ALERT, there is no documentation of when or where Reagan made that statement.

In fact, the quote seemingly was made up by biographer Edmond Morris who wrote it in Vanity Fair about an imaginary conversation with Reagan and Teddy Roosevelt.

Inaccurate quote from Ronald Reagan.

There are, however, the actual words of Reagan who, as a former California governor, backed the concept of open borders, and as president, signed a massive amnesty bill that he strongly supported.

Let’s get to the facts.

During a debate with George H. W. Bush for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980, Reagan said this about immigration:


“Rather than making them, of talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems, make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit, and then, while they’re working and earning here, they pay taxes here. And when they want to go back they can go back, and cross. And open the border both ways, by understanding their problems. This is the only safety valve they have right now, with that unemployment, that probably keeps the lid from blowing off…And I think we could have a fine relationship.”


Here is the video of Reagan making the above statement:



After his election, Reagan backed a massive amnesty bill, called the Simpson–Mazzoli Act, that he proudly talked about during a 1984 debate with Walter Mondale:


“But it is true our borders are out of control. It is also true that this has been a situation on our borders back through a number of administrations. And I supported this bill. I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and who have lived here even though sometime back they may have entered illegally.”


Here is the video of Reagan making the above statement:


Work visas? Open borders? Understanding that migrant workers are responding to larger economic forces that play a defining role in where prosperity—or even a steady job—can be found?

This is the kind of talk you’d expect from someone who’d grant amnesty to illegal immigrants already in the U.S., which, of course, Reagan did.

The most striking thing at work here, though, is the tone of Reagan.

No fear talk, no claims of an “invasion” coming to kill Americans, no dark forces slipping through the border to undermine the American way of life.

But a man talking about people seeking freedom and work.

We knew Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was a friend of ours. And Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan.

Reagan appreciated that America is a nation of immigrants, but more than that, he understood that the great attraction of immigrants to America was not simply greater economic opportunity but the dream of freedom–the American dream–that the nation represents.

Becoming an American is much more than simply getting a legal document attesting to the bearer’s privileges of citizenship.

Here’s how Reagan explained it in a 1988 speech:


“America represents something universal in the human spirit. I received a letter not long ago from a man who said, ‘You can go to Japan to live, but you cannot become Japanese. You can go to France to live and not become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Turkey, and you won’t become a German or a Turk. But anybody from any corner of the world can come to America to live and become an American.”


Now the Republican Party can be heard chanting “build that wall” with strands of racism dripping from the words, something Reagan would have found simply appalling.

Using a fake quote from Ronald Reagan about immigration may make some feel better about it, but it still doesn’t change the reality.

Or the facts.

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