As Reagan said in 1982 debate with Walter Mondale: “I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though sometime back they may have entered illegally,”
And yes, in 1986 he signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which gave Amnesty to all who had entered the country illegally prior to 1982. Ultimately, over 2.9 million came forward and took advantage of the amnesty.
Alan Simpson, the Republican senator from Wyoming, a co-sponsor of the bill, and a longtime close friend of Reagans, is quoted as saying: Reagan “knew that it was not right for people to be abused,” Simpson says. “Anybody who’s here illegally is going to be abused in some way, either financially [or] physically. They have no rights.”
Former Reagan speechwriter Peter Robinson had this to say: “It was in Ronald Reagan’s bones — it was part of his understanding of America — that the country was fundamentally open to those who wanted to join us here.”