1986 immigration law compares with President Obama’s program

1986 Immigration law (President Ronald Reagan bill)


The Immigration Reform and Control Act was passed and signed into law on November 6, 1986. The purpose of this legislation was to amend, revise, and reform/re-assess the status of unauthorized immigrants set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act. The content of this bill is overwhelming and is divided into many sections such as control of unauthorized immigration, legalization and reform of legal immigration. The focus of this précis will be on the legalization aspect of the bill.

This bill gave unauthorized aliens the opportunity to apply and gain legal status if they met mandated requirements. The fate or status of all those who applied fell into the hands of “Designated Entities” and finally the U.S. Attorney General. Applicants had to prove that they lived and maintained a continuous physical presence in the U.S. since January 1st, 1982, possess a clean criminal record, and provide proof of registration within the Selective Service. Moreover, applicants had to meet minimal knowledge requirements in U.S. history, government and the English language or be pursuing a course of study approved by the Attorney General.

This bill also outlined previsions for temporary residents’ travel, employment, false statements, numerical limitations, adjustments for status and treatment of applications by “Designated Entities”. Furthermore, after an applicant was assigned a legal status or deemed a temporary lawful resident, they were disqualified from receiving all forms of public welfare assistance for five years. The rules for applications and welfare assistance did not apply to Cuban or Haitian immigrants.

President Obama’s executive actions of November, 2014
On November 20, 2014, in a televised address from the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a program of “delayed action” which would permit roughly 45% of illegal immigrants to lawfully stay and work in the United States. The largest prior deferral action, in 1990 during the administration of President George H.W. Bush, affected 40% of undocumented immigrants then. Up to 3.7 million undocumented parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents in the country for at least five years, are eligible for the new deferrals, as are about .3 million immigrants who arrived as children before January, 2010. (The second group are eligible by expansion of the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA previously covered 1.2 million people; the expansion brings it to 1.5 million). The new deferments are to be granted for three years at a time. Additional executive actions also announced include an end to the Secure Communities program, increased resources for border enforcement, and new procedures for “high-skilled immigrants.” These other “parts of the president’s plan” could provide “protection from deportation” for roughly “an additional one million people.” President Obama’s actions were clearly presented as a response to Congress having been unable in recent years to agree on a general legislative overhaul of U.S. immigration policy. In “acting where Congress has been unsuccessful,” Obama said, he still hoped “to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution. And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary