Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

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Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986
Great Seal of the United States.
Colloquial acronym(s) IRCA
Nickname(s) Simpson–Mazzoli Act
Enacted by the  99th United States Congress
Citations
Public Law Pub.L. 99–603
Stat. 100 Stat. 3445
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the Senate as S. 1200 by Alan K. Simpson on May 23, 1985
  • Committee consideration by: Senate Judiciary, Senate Budget
  • Passed the Senate on September 19, 1985 (69–30)
  • Passed the House on October 9, 1986 (voice vote after incorporating H.R. 3810, passed 230–166)
  • Reported by the joint conference committee on October 14, 1986; agreed to by the House on October 15, 1986 (238–173) and by the Senate on October 17, 1986 (63–24)
  • Signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on November 6, 1986

The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), Pub.L. 99–603, 100 Stat. 3445, enacted November 6, 1986, also Simpson-Mazzoli Act, is an Act of Congress which reformed United States immigration law. The act[1]

  • required employers to attest to their employees' immigration status;
  • made it illegal to knowingly hire or recruit illegal immigrants;
  • legalized certain seasonal agricultural illegal immigrants, and;
  • legalized illegal immigrants who entered the United States before January 1, 1982 and had resided there continuously with the penalty of a fine, back taxes due, and admission of guilt; candidates were required to prove that they were not guilty of crimes, that they were in the country before January 1, 1982, and that they possessed minimal knowledge about U.S. history, government, and the English language.

About three million illegal immigrants were granted legal status through this act.[citation needed]

Legislative background and description[edit]

Romano L. Mazzoli was a Democratic representative from Kentucky and Alan K. Simpson was a Republican senator from Wyoming who chaired their respective immigration subcommittees in Congress. Their effort was assisted by the recommendations of the bipartisan Commission on Immigration Reform, chaired by Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, then President of the University of Notre Dame.

The law criminalized the act of knowingly hiring an illegal alien and established financial and other penalties for those employing illegal immigrants under the theory that low prospects for employment would reduce undocumented immigration. It introduced the I-9 form to ensure that all employees presented documentary proof of their legal eligibility to accept employment in the United States.

These sanctions would apply only to employers that had more than three employees and did not make a sufficient effort to determine the legal status of their workers.

The first Simpson-Mazzoli Bill was reported out of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. The bill failed to be received by the House, but civil rights advocates were concerned over the potential for abuse and discrimination against Hispanics, growers' groups rallied for additional provisions for foreign labor, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce persistently opposed sanctions against employers.

The second Simpson-Mazzoli Bill finally passed both chambers in 1985, but it came apart in the conference committee over the issue of cost. The year marked an important turning point for the reform effort. Employer opposition to employer sanctions began to subside, partly because of the "affirmative defense" clause in the law that explicitly released employers from any obligation to check the authenticity of workers' documents.

Also, agricultural employers shifted their focus from opposition to employer sanctions to a concerted campaign to secure alternative sources of foreign labor. As opposition to employer sanctions waned and growers' lobbying efforts for extensive temporary worker programs intensified, agricultural worker programs began to outrank employer sanctions component as the most controversial element of reform.

Impact[edit]

On labor market[edit]

According to one study, the IRCA caused some employers to discriminate against workers who appeared foreign, resulting in a small reduction in overall Hispanic employment. There is no statistical evidence that a reduction in employment correlated to unemployment in the economy as a whole or was separate from the general unemployment population statistics.[2] Another study stated that if hired, wages were being lowered to compensate employers for the perceived risk of hiring foreigners.[3]

The hiring process also changed as employers turned to indirect hiring through subcontractors. "Under a subcontracting agreement, a U.S. citizen or resident alien contractually agrees with an employer to provide a specific number of workers for a certain period of time to undertake a defined task at a fixed rate of pay per worker".[3] "By using a subcontractor the firm is not held liable since the workers are not employees. The use of a subcontractor decreases a worker's wages since a portion is kept by the subcontractor. This indirect hiring is imposed on everyone regardless of legality".[3]

On illegal immigration[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Coutin, Susan Bibler. 2007. Nation of Emigrants. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY. pg 179
  2. ^ Lowell, Lindsay; Jay Teachman; Zhongren Jing (November 1995). "Unintended Consequences of Immigration Reform: Discrimination and Hispanic Employment". Demography (Population Association of America) 32 (4): 617–628. doi:10.2307/2061678. JSTOR 2061678. 
  3. ^ a b c Massey, Douglas S. (2007). "Chapter 4: Building a Better Underclass". Categorically Unequal: The American Stratification System. New York: Russel Sage Foundation. pp. 143–145. ISBN 0-87154-585-3. 

External links[edit]