Document Discussion Group
“Congress Clears Overhaul of Immigration Law”
(excerpted from Congressional Quarterly Almanac, 1986)
On October 17, 1986, Congress approved legislation that transformed U.S. immigration laws. The legislation known as the Immigration Reform and Control Act or Simpson Mazolli Act allowed for:
- fines and in extreme cases jail terms for employers who knowingly hired illegal immigrants
- amnesty to be bestowed on any illegal aliens able to prove that they had lived continuously in the United States for four years, on or before January 1, 1982.
The sanction against employers was instituted to help close a loophole in U.S. immigration law, which while previously stating that it was illegal to enter or work in the country without proper papers, did not make it illegal for employers to hire “undocumented workers.”
- - It is unlawful for any person to knowingly hire, recruit or refer for a fee any alien not authorized to work in the United States.
- - All employers must verify newly hired people by examining a U.S. passport, a certificate of U.S. citizenship, a certificate of naturalization or a resident alien card.
- - Temporary resident status will be provided for aliens who have resided continuously in the United States since before January 1, 1982, and those who could not be excluded for reasons specified in the immigration law.
S 1200 was the first comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration laws since the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952. Compromise fostered the bipartisan support needed for the bill to pass the House and Senate.
- Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act in October 1986.
- President Reagan signed the bill on November 6, 1986
Background information: (compiled Diane Hawkins , Eric Adler, John Downey, Carol Wyenn)
In 1980, Ronald Reagan won the presidency by a landslide, with 91% of the electoral votes. He inherited an American economy experiencing increasing unemployment, double-digit inflation, high interest rates, and alarming national debt. Reagan interpreted his victory, coupled with the severity of these problems, as a mandate to implement a policy of supply-side economics. “Supply-siders” promote the use of lowering marginal tax rates as a means to stimulate economic growth.
On February 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan spoke to the nation to address the grim state of the economy, explain how the problems came about, and communicate his solutions.
On February 18th, President Reagan presented his four-part plan for economic recovery to a joint session of Congress and sixty million television viewers. The four-part plan was a departure from the Keynesian economic policies which had dominated the domestic agenda since the inception of the New Deal. Reagan’s plan included tax relief, spending reductions, deregulation, and support of contractionary monetary policy.