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A U.S. district court decision in Washington state will open up amnesty for thousands of immigrants. The settlement allows for a one-time amnesty to immigrants who were unlawfully in the United States from 1982 to 1988 as result of the 1986 immigration law reform.

Congress prevented immigrants from applying for the amnesty because of the concern that immigrants with valid visas during that time period would also apply for the amnesty. In effect, they were placing the burden on the immigrants themselves to prove that the United States knew that the immigrant was in the country illegally.

Two men - Erkan Aydin and Olaniyi Sofuluke - through their attorney Peter Schey were able to prove that they came to the country on a student visa, but did not attend school, which invalidated their visa. Colleges and universities are required to send notices to the federal government when these situations arise, so Schey argued that the federal government knew their immigration status had moved from legal to illegal.

U.S. immigration officials have announced that immigrants whose cases involve violations known to the government may apply for amnesty between February 1, 2009 and January 31, 2010.

The Los Angeles Times has more on this story.
amnesty
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Updated: Mon, Dec 15th 2008 @ 10:53am EST