Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) believes that, were it his decision to make today, former President Ronald Reagan would force the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States to return to their native countries.
"What would President Ronald Reagan do about illegal immigration?" Brooks asked during a speech on the House floor Tuesday.
While using excerpts from a 2006 op-ed penned by Reagan's Attorney General Edwin Meese, Brooks proceeded to answer his rhetorical question.
"President Reagan would insist that those who are here illegally must repent and atone for their illegal conduct by returning to their country of origin and getting in line with everyone else," Brooks said. "He knew that secure borders are vital and would now insist on meeting that priority first. He would seek to strengthen the enforcement of existing immigration laws."
In 1986, Reagan supported a bill that granted amnesty to the nearly 3 million undocumented immigrants who had entered the country prior to 1982.
"I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though some time back they may have entered illegally," Reagan said during a 1984 debate with Democratic presidential nominee, Walter Mondale.
Still, Brooks -- by way of Meese -- is sure "The Gipper" would have learned from the consequences of his immigration reform.
"The 1986 act did not solve our illegal immigration problem," Brooks said. "From the start, there was widespread document fraud by applicants. Unsurprisingly, the number of people applying for amnesty far exceeded projections."
Brooks went on to say that "foreigners whose first action on American soil is illegal conduct are not deserving" of American citizenship.
Notably, while reading Meese's op-ed, Brooks inserted the term "illegal aliens" where Meese had written "unauthorized population." Immigrant rights groups have objected to the term "illegal" as offensive, prompting major media companies to phase out its usage.
Brooks represents a cadre of conservatives who are opposed to the bipartisan bill currently being debated in the Senate. Critics say the bill makes promises of border enforcement that are unlikely to be kept.