What Amnesty Has Already Done to America

Rick Oltman, Universal Free Press, November 19, 2014

November 6th marked a dubious anniversary in the history of America. On that day 28 years ago President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Immigration Reform and Control Act, IRCA. Also known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, it was an amnesty for illegal aliens, the effects of which we live with today.

IRCA was the most comprehensive reform of our immigration laws since 1952. In 1981 the Reagan Administration asked Congress to pass a comprehensive legislative package that included employer sanctions, other measures to increase enforcement of immigration laws and the legalization of illegal aliens. The Employer Sanctions program was supposed to be the key element that would remove the incentive for illegal immigration by eliminating the job opportunities which was, and is, the number one reason that illegal aliens come to our country.

Whatever its intention, it is undeniable that the IRCA Amnesty of millions of illegal aliens failed to solve the problem of illegal immigration. Instead, the legalization of people who broke our laws and sneaked into our country and were allowed to jump the line in front of legal immigrants only encouraged more illegal immigration by creating a worldwide expectation that if you could just get to the United States, that you too would eventually get amnesty.


In June of 1984, amidst the presidential campaign, three candidates for the Democrat Presidential nomination; Walter Mondale, Gary Hart and Jesse Jackson opposed Simpson-Mazzoli.

Cesar Chavez, who had his union members calling the INS to report illegal aliens working in the fields so that they could be deported, encouraged the U.S. government to include provisions in the Immigration Reform and Control Act (1986) applying sanctions against employers who knowingly hired illegal aliens.

How many would apply for, or qualify for, amnesty was never known, nor even closely estimated. In 1981 the estimate was one million illegal aliens in the country. By 1984 that estimate had been raised to 1.6 million. Depending on the cutoff date, prior to which the illegal alien could apply, some estimates were raised to 2.2 million.

In 1984 it was believed that the total number of illegals in the country, not all of whom would qualify for the amnesty, was, “somewhere around 6 million.” Some experts, according to TIME Magazine (June 2, 1984), estimated that the real number of illegals in the country in 1984 could be as high as 12 million.

If the number 12 million seems familiar, it is. It is the number that is most used in discussions today by those who want to mask the reality of the immigration anarchy that our government’s failure to enforce our laws has wrought.


In the early 1980s the Reagan Administration tasked the Social Security Administration, Department of Labor and the Census Bureau to estimate the number of illegals who would likely apply for amnesty. Prior to IRCA it was illegal to work in our country if you were here illegally, but it wasn’t illegal to hire illegal aliens. That double standard was erased by the Act. But, those employers who paid the illegal worker on the books and reported taxes to the IRS and SSA gave these agencies a good idea of the number of workers without a valid Social Security number. The initial official estimate was that 1.1 million illegals would apply for amnesty.

What the federal government apparently didn’t take into account was that many of those 1.1 million would bring friends and relatives back to America to claim five years residence in the same fraudulent manner as those who came and went on a regular basis. That is one reason why the number of applications was three times higher than the original estimate.

When the knowledge of fraud got out, there was a literal stampede of people coming across the border illegally to apply for amnesty and the government was quickly overwhelmed. Estimates of application fraud ranged between 66% and 75%.

Packages of counterfeit utility receipts, written receipts and anything else that would establish a 5 year residency were for sale and only required the name to be filled in. And, these were in the days prior to personal computers. Adjudicators did not to look too closely if on the surface the application appeared to be legitimate.

On the border, whole groups of illegals were turning themselves into BP officers as soon as they crossed the border saying they wanted to apply for the amnesty.

And then the Border Patrol was given orders not to interfere with an alien who was “en-route” to apply for amnesty.


In implementing the IRCA in 1987-88, the I.N.S. determined that illegal aliens who received welfare assistance were ineligible for amnesty. The Courts later overruled the I.N.S. and told the agency to accept amnesty applications from unauthorized foreigners who had received welfare.

Drenched with fraud, the amnesty raised expectations around the world and in the 28 years since IRCA there have been tens of millions of illegal entries into the United States.


Expectation is the worst legacy of the 1986 IRCA. It fuels all movement toward our borders because of the continuous talk of another amnesty.


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