What Would Reagan Do?Roundup: Historians' Take
tags: Ronald Reagan, immigration reform
Frank Keating, a former Republican governor of Oklahoma, is president and chief executive of the American Bankers Assn.
Like many Republicans — what's more, like many Americans — I regard Ronald Reagan as my political hero and inspiration. For conservatives who came of age in the 1960s and '70s, President Reagan offered a principled and compassionate argument for individual freedom and an equally compelling case for personal responsibility.
In 1989, Reagan described his view of America "as a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here."
Unfortunately, too many conservatives — though they aspire to walk in Reagan's footsteps — have forgotten that immigration reform is the most Republican of causes. We cannot support open borders for trade but not for people. We cannot support the unfettered exchange of goods and ideas while building razor-wired walls that separate children from their parents. We cannot make America stronger and more prosperous by excluding tomorrow's talent and industry....