Immigration Reform

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Immigration Reform

Immigration Reform

The Immigration Reform and Control Act, also Simpson - Mazzoli Act, signed by President Ronald Reagan on November 6, 1986, is an Act of Congress which reformed United States immigration law. Basically. this act made it illegal to hire unauthorized immigrants. The employers also had to certify the status of their employees' immigration. However, this act also allowed illegal aliens to stay in this country if they were here before January 1, 1982... at the same residence.

There were two phases to this act. In the first phase the illegal aliens that were already in this country were supposed to beat the deadline for amnesty in 1986. The second phase deals with sanctions for employers. This paper will explain why the act has failed offering explanations from various scholarly sources.

According to an article by Arthur Helton printed by ABA Journal "the highly legalistic nature of the process made it inaccessible to many undocumented residents who needed legal or other assistance. The filing fees, the meticulous document demands and the fear caused by the inability of the INS to give appropriate assurances all combined to undercut what would seem to be the promise of the program." Helton further states that "it's hard to say for sure whether we would have had more applicants with extended time or a smaller fee." "But I think because of the intense publicity campaign we had, going out and getting the information out to people, I doubt we would have gotten much more." "The fee in our opinion was certainly reasonable." Helton goes on to explain how there was a grass roots effort to drive from neighborhood to neighborhood passing out information, making applications available, providing INS employees to assist aliens in completing their applications, etc(Brownell, 2005).

Another reason cited for the failure of the first phase of amnesty is that "qualified designated entities" (QDE's) that helped file applications with the INS for aliens charged fees over and above the straight fee. This practice led to a need for an extension of the deadline but the Immigration Nationalization Service (INS) felt that an extension of the deadline would lead to people continuing to come to the U.S. illegally. Today, Americans say that immigration is out of control and further reform is needed.

Jacoby suggests three steps to follow; more immigrant worker visa's, tougher and more effective enforcement, and a one - time transitional measure that allows the illegal immigrants already here to earn their way to stay here.

Amnesty does not equate to citizenship, however. Jacoby questions whether illegal immigrants already here should be allowed to become citizens. He says that if they do not gain citizenship when they obtain amnesty that it would create "a permanent caste of second - class workers, people trusted to cook Americans' food and tend their children but not to call themselves Americans or participate in politics." Jacoby says that the two - sided argument about becoming a citizen is first, "that it is enough to ask applicants to come forward and ...
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