Research & Policy

Legalization

1. Betsy Cooper and Kevin O’Neil, Lessons From the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, Migration Policy Institute Policy Brief No.3 (August 2005).
"Although the concepts behind the legislation were sound, there were a number of problems with its design and implementation in each of its major goals: employer accountability, broader enforcement that prevented illegal entries, and legalization of a large population of unauthorized migrants." Download this document

2. Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., How to Prepare for Legalization Now.
"Many proposals are currently pending in Congress and many more will likely be introduced that would allow certain undocumented persons to earn legal status in the United States. These proposals have not yet been passed, and it may take a long time for any of them to become law. Still, Immigration service-providers are advised to begin considering what implementation of legalization would require." Download this document

3. Center for American Progress, Deporting the Undocumented: A Cost Assessment (July 2005).
"The political debate over immigration reform remains stymied over the question of illegal immigration. With an undocumented population currently estimated at more than 10 million people and growing by approximately 500,000 annually, resolving the status of the undocumented has become the principal obstacle to achieving consensus on reform." Download this document

4. Charles Wheeler, Lessons from Legalization, Law and Practice (February 2004).
"Given the number of bills currently pending in Congress that would provide some form of legalization to undocumented aliens, and the momentum that has been building to pass a major immigration reform law, we thought it would be helpful to give some historical perspective from the last major amnesty law."Download this document

5. Donald Kerwin and Charles Wheeler, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.,The Case for Legalization, Lessons from 1986, Recommendations for the Future (2004).
"The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 offered a significant benefit and created what its sponsors hoped would be a formidable club. On the one hand, it provided a path to legal status for nearly three million undocumented persons. On the other, it established sanctions against employers who hired the undocumented, in the hope that this would discourage undocumented work and migration. By the time its application period ended in December 1988, the U.S. undocumented population had fallen to between one and one-half and three million persons. At the time, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) predicted that ‘[f]uture growth or decline of the resident illegal population will depend partly on [IRCA’s] effectiveness.’ By this measure, IRCA has failed egregiously." Download this document

6. Douglas S. Massey, Backfire at the Border: Why Enforcement Without Legalization Can’t Stop Illegal Immigration (June 13, 2005).
"Despite increase enforcement at the U.S.-Mexican border beginning in the 1980’s, the number of foreign born workers entering the United States illegally each year has not diminished. Today an estimated 10 million of more people reside in the United States without legal documentation." Download this document

7. Immigration Policy Center, More Than a Temporary Fix: The Role of Permanent Immigration in Comprehensive Reform, Volume 5 Issue 1 (January 2006).
"The immigration debate once again is dominated by narrow thinking and the search for simplistic solutions to complex problems. Most lawmakers and the press have come to equate "immigration reform" with the question of whether or not enhanced immigration enforcement should be coupled  with a new guest worker program that is more responsive  than current immigration policies to the labor needs of the  U.S. economy." Download this document

8. Ruth Ellen Wasem, Immigration Legalization and Status Adjustment Legislation, CRS Report for Congress (April 15, 2002).
"Although President George W. Bush has said he opposes broad legalization for unauthorized migrants, there were reports in the summer of 2001 that the President would recommend legislation to legalize an estimated 3 million Mexicans working in the United States without legal authorization. President Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox have established a Cabinet-level working group to develop "an orderly framework for migration that ensures humane treatment [and] legal security, and dignifies labor conditions."  Initial speculation that the President would unveil a legalization proposal in early September was tempered by subsequent reports that he would recommend a more gradual series of proposals.  Talks with Mexico continued after the September 11 terrorist attacks, and now the issue is re-emerging." Download this document

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