Though some of the details of the “Gang of 8″ immigration deal differ from those of Reagan’s 1986 amnesty, many of the same challenges remain. Won’t this amnesty encourage more illegal immigration in the future? Won’t it give a civilly suspect advantage to illegal immigrants (by giving them and their extended family residency well in advance of those who have followed the law and waited outside this nation’s borders until they receive permission to move here)? Won’t it encourage a further degradation of wages for many legal immigrants and native-born workers? Won’t it place further burdens on an increasingly strained social safety net? Much could be said for reforming our nation’s immigration laws, and one can very much understand the value of bringing illegal immigrants who are otherwise integrated into our society out of the shadows. But history suggests that the burden of proof needs to be on advocates of amnesty proposals to show why their proposed legalizations, unlike those of the past, will not in fact lead to more people in the shadows and a more civilly divided nation.

These are not small issues for the future of the Republican Party and sustainable conservatism. The fallout from the Reagan amnesty injured the Republican Party in California by undermining the middle class and increasing social divisions. …