Failed Amnesty Legislation of 1986 Haunts the Current Immigration Bills in CongressBreaking News
President Ronald Reagan signed that bill into law with great fanfare amid promises that it would grant legal status to illegal immigrants, crack down on employers who hired illegal workers and secure the border once and for all. Instead, fraudulent applications tainted the process, many employers continued their illicit hiring practices, and illegal immigration surged.
Today, senators who hope to put the nation's illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship say they have learned from the past. But some members of Congress and former immigration officials fear history will repeat itself.
Even some who favor legalization warn that the current bill, which requires illegal immigrants to submit affidavits, rent receipts and other documents as proof of eligibility, may fuel a wave of fraudulent documents and applications.
Demetrios G. Papademetriou, who studied the 1986 amnesty at the Labor Department in the first Bush administration, said he was encouraged when he heard that the Senate was close to granting legal status to illegal workers. But Dr. Papademetriou, who is now president of the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research group in Washington, said his heart sank when he learned about the legalization process, which he believes will create a market for counterfeit documents.
In the late 1980's, immigration officials approved more than 90 percent of the 1.3 million amnesty applications for a specialized program for agricultural workers, even though they had identified possible fraud in nearly a third of those applications. The general amnesty, which legalized 1.7 million people, worked much more efficiently, though some of its applications raised similar concerns.
Dr. Papademetriou, recalling the difficulties 20 years ago, said: "We're going back to 1986. Do we ever learn anything?"
comments powered by Disqus
- Frontline does Trump & Clinton
- This New York Times ‘Hitler’ book review sure reads like a thinly veiled Trump comparison
- Chicago Tribune editorial: The government should release secret grand jury testimony about its 1942 scoop: "Jap Plan to Strike at Sea"
- US owes blacks reparations over slavery: UN experts
- Mali Islamist jailed for nine years for Timbuktu shrine attacks
- What Historians Are Saying About the First Trump-Clinton Debate
- Princeton professor documents the movement that ended single-sex education at elite schools
- Annette Gordon-Reed tells historians the controversy over Harvard law school's shield is different from the fight over the Confederate flag
- Historian EP Thompson denounced Communist party chiefs, files show
- Voting opens soon for the leaders of the OAH in 2017