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Republican debate ad: immigration advocates use Ronald Reagan to show how far right the GOP has gone

I am pretty well inoculated against issue ads, especially issue ads on immigration. But during one commercial break in CNN's Republican presidential primary debate — held at the Reagan Library — the National Immigration Forum Action Fund aired an ad contrasting Reagan's immigration rhetoric with his 2016 Republican heirs. And it is a very, very good ad:

Ronald Reagan, of course, signed the only broad immigration bill in American history that actually called itself amnesty. But the ad is effective because it showcases how compassionate Reagan's rhetoric was toward immigrants. Compared to Donald Trump's insistence that the United States can and should deport 11 million people (and their US-born children), of course Reagan sounds like an immigration dove. But he's even to the left of many Democratic supporters of comprehensive immigration reform, who talk about unauthorized immigrants having to take responsibility and get to the back of the line.

In the clip the Forum posted, Reagan even seems to treat borders themselves as a necessary evil: "If there had to be city walls, the walls had doors." Even Bernie Sanders would call that a Koch brothers plot.


CORRECTION: This article originally attributed the ad to the National Immigration Forum; it was in fact sponsored by the National Immigration Forum Action Fund, which is independently financed and governed, in compliance with campaign-finance laws.