Since the passing of the Immigration and Reform Control Act (IRCA), 6 million illegal aliens have received amnesty in the United States. The IRCA Amnesty was supposed to "wipe the slate clean" and instead it's lead to the current situation of 12-20 million illegal aliens living in the country.
|The Seven Amnesties Passed by Congress
|1. Immigration and Reform Control Act (IRCA), 1986: A blanket amnesty for some 2.7 million illegal aliens|
|2. Section 245(i) Amnesty, 1994: A temporary rolling amnesty for 578,000 illegal aliens|
|3. Section 245(i) Extension Amnesty, 1997: An extension of the rolling amnesty created in 1994|
|4. Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) Amnesty, 1997: An amnesty for close to one million illegal aliens from Central America|
|5. Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act Amnesty (HRIFA), 1998: An amnesty for 125,000 illegal aliens from Haiti|
|6. Late Amnesty, 2000: An amnesty for some illegal aliens who claim they should have been amnestied under the 1986 IRCA amnesty, an estimated 400,000 illegal aliens|
|7. LIFE Act Amnesty, 2000: A reinstatement of the rolling Section 245(i) amnesty, an estimated 900,000 illegal aliens|
Amnesty No. 1- Immigration and Reform Control Act (IRCA), 1986 also known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) was enacted by Congress in response to the large and rapidly growing illegal alien population in the United States. The final bill was the result of a dramatic compromise between those who wanted to reduce illegal immigration into the United States and those who wanted to "wipe the slate clean" for those illegals already living here by granting them legal residence. As enacted, IRCA included a massive amnesty program for two main categories of illegal aliens:
1) those who could show that they had resided illegally in the United States continuously since at least January 1, 1982; and
2) those who had worked as agricultural workers for at least 90 days between May 1, 1985 and May 1, 1986.
As a "balance" to this huge amnesty, IRCA also included several provisions designed to: strengthen the enforcement of immigration laws (including sanctions for employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens); increase border controls; and create a program to verify the immigration status of aliens applying for certain welfare benefits.
The IRCA amnesty has been tied to terrorism. Mahmud Abouhalima, a leader of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was legalized as a seasonal agricultural worker as part of the 1986 IRCA amnesty. This allowed him to travel abroad, including several trips to Afghanistan, where he received terrorist training.
NOTE: In the 1990 Immigration Act, an additional 160,000 spouses and minor children of aliens amnestied under IRCA were granted amnesty as well. These 160,000 aliens are not included in the total numeric impact of the amnesty.
In addition, another 350,000 illegal aliens who were initially disqualified from the 1986 IRCA amnesty because they had traveled abroad while in the U.S. illegally may qualify for amnesty under proposed settlements in lawsuits resulting after the 1986 amnesty.
The 10-year impact of both the SAW and general amnesty in the Immigration Reform and Control Act was 2,684,892. The computation for the total number of immigrants to be added by this amnesty can be found on this chart.
Amnesty No. 6 - Late Amnesty, 2000: An amnesty for some illegal aliens who claim they should have been amnestied under the 1986 IRCA amnesty.
Amnesty No. 2 - Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 245(i) Amnesty, 1994: A temporary rolling amnesty for 578,000 illegal aliens
Section 245(i) was added to immigration law when Congress passed this de facto amnesty as part of the FY 1995 Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations bill. Section 245(i) went into effect at the beginning of FY 1995 and was scheduled to sunset at the end of FY 1997 (Sep. 30, 1997).
In nearly all cases, a person must be an illegal alien to benefit from Section 245(i). There are two major kinds of illegal aliens who benefit: (1) Those who entered the country illegally. (2) Those who entered legally on visas but then violated the terms of their visa. Read what Section 245(i) actually does.
The INS estimates that at the end of FY 1997, Section 245(i) applications had resulted in an increase of 578,000 in the adjustment of status application backlog. This does not include Section 245(i) applicants whose status had already been adjusted as the INS does not track that separately.
Amnesty No. 3 - Section 245(i) Extension Amnesty of 1997
President Clinton twice signed continuing resolutions to extend the September 30, 1997 expiration date of Section 245(i). The first continuing resolution extended the deadline until October 23, 1997 and the second continuing resolution extended Section 245(i) until November 7, 1997. Section 245(i) was then further extended until January 14, 1998 by Congress as part of the conference report to H.R. 2267.
Amnesty No. 7- LIFE ACT Amnesty, 2000: A reinstatement of the rolling Section 245(i) amnesty
The LIFE Act of 2000 that was passed in December, 2000 reinstated Section 245(i) for the first four months of 2001 (Jan-April).
The House Immigration Subcommittee estimates that 900,000 aliens applied for adjustment of status in the first full year of the reinstatement.