One of them was brokering meetings with conservative leaders — asking them to “hear out” George W. Bush‘s plan for comprehensive immigration reform. One meeting included Edwin Meese, who had served as U.S. attorney general under Ronald Reagan. Meese took the meeting out of respect for Snow and Bush, but he left unmoved.
The plan Bush proposed was similar to a law that Reagan had supported in 1986, granting a blanket amnesty in return for beefed-up border security, better enforcement of immigration laws, and serious visa and immigration reforms. At least, that’s what it said on paper. But when it came to implementation, the Reagan-era initiative failed. Abysmally.
Rather than “solve” the problem of illegal immigration once and for all, the number of people unlawfully present quadrupled in the years after the amnesty. Meese argued there were clear lessons from this experience. One major lesson: Granting amnesty simply encourages more unlawful migration.