The Oakland Tribune notes the similarities between the current push for Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the Immigration Reform and Control Act, approved by Congress in 1986 and signed by then-President Ronald Reagan.
President Barack Obama made little mention of immigration during his State of the Union address on Wednesday, leading some analysts to believe he might back off on his pursuit of a “pathway to citizenship” for illegal immigrants who pay a fine and learn English. Still, as his administration and members of Congress continue to push for some kind of immigration reform this year, supporters and opponents of legalization are looking back at 1986 for guidance on what to do and what to avoid.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has called Obama’s reform proposals a “three-legged stool” that would mix humane treatment of immigrants already here with improved enforcement of existing laws. In doing so, she has echoed the language of the Reagan administration, which argued for a “three-pronged” approach when it negotiated the 1986 act that legalized illegal immigrants, made it illegal for employers to hire them in the future and set up a penalty system for employers who broke the law.