The Congressional passage of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act permitted millions of illegal aliens to obtain lawful permanent resident status through the Immigration and Naturalization Service Legalization or “Amnesty” program.
The Act contained two “amnesty” provisions. The first applied to illegal aliens who had entered the United States before January 1, 1982, without inspection or on a visitor or student visa and overstayed or worked without permission. These “pre-1982 applicants” had to meet certain legalization provisions, and the one examined by the Office of Inspector General afforded permanent residence t0 undocumented agricultural workers known as ” Special Agricultural Workers”.
To be eligible for Amnesty provisions, the applicant had to prove with documentation that he or she had worked in an agricultural enterprise in the United States for 90 days in each calendar year from 1984 through 1986, or for 90 days between May 1985 and May 1986.
The evidence of having engaged in such work was often forged and sold to illegal aliens seeking U.S. residency. With the vast number of applications under the program and the relative fewer investigative resources, the Immigration service approved applications without the necessary proof that they could be fraudulent.
Those of us actually trying to enforce the laws which were largely unenforceable due to manpower restraints observed first hand the criminal events and impacts on society. Fraud, False Documents, identity theft, organized smuggling rings and numerous criminal classes of illegal aliens were problems then and now.
The U.S. Border Patrol and INS Investigators tried to enforce labor sanctions laws but were soon over-run by a secondary invasion from the borders by human traffickers bringing in “cheaper foreign laborers” from Guatemala and Central America. Curiously, these people were entering the United States illegally to work in Agriculture nationwide and recruited by farm labor contractors.
A National Task Force should have been established soon after the failed immigration reform act became known. Thousands of additional Special Agents could have been made available throughout the U.S. with no other purpose than enforcing labor sanctions and establishing large fines for companies that continually violated the law by hiring illegal aliens. Strict enforcement would have prevented millions from entering without inspection. If all U.S. companies had feared massive fines for hiring illegal undocumented alien laborers, there would have been no financial advantage to displace citizen and legal resident alien workers. The Immigration and Reform Act did not solve the undocumented alien problems but actually increased illegal entries without inspection along the border. Crime also escalated due to organized human smuggling cadres.
One or two assigned Investigators to work IRCA frauds per state was hardly a force of any consequence—other than an opening for more fraudulent admissions during the first Amnesty. The Dream Act now proposed by Congress may also become a fraud filled fiasco similar to the 1986 Amnesty which has never ended due to added eligible classes of people.
Report of investigation by the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General examining the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s “Citizenship USA” initiative of fiscal year 1996 and addressing the problem of widespread fraud in the Special Agricultural Worker amnesty program under the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA).