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Immigration plan: How 1986 amnesty compares to Senate proposal
There are some major differences between the Senate proposal to overhaul immigration and a 1986 amnesty for undocumented immigrants.
Digital First Media· Tue, Jan 29 2013 10:01:29
A bipartisan group of senators
put forward a plan
Monday to give many of the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. This blueprint has sparked comparisons to a 1986 law which gave amnesty to 2.7 million people.
How the two programs would be similar
President Ronald Reagan gestures during a news conference at the White House in 1986. (AP Photo/Scott Stewart)
Immigrants must not have a criminal background
Undocumented immigrants could not qualify for temporary or permanent residence if they had been
convicted of a felony
or three misdemeanors in the U.S.
The blueprint states that individuals with
“a serious criminal background”
or who “pose a threat to our national security” will not be eligible and may be deported.
Immigrants must have an understanding of English and civics
Undocumented immigrants needed to meet “minimum requirements for
an understanding of English
and a knowledge of American history and government” or show they were studying those subjects. Those 65 and older were exempted.
The blueprint states that individuals would need to
“learn English and civics”
before they were eligible for permanent residency, but not for a probationary status.
Immigrants must show a history of employment
Undocumented immigrants were not eligible if they could not
show a history of employment
or otherwise looked like they might be likely to end up on public assistance.
The blueprints states that individuals will need to “demonstrate
a history of work
in the United States, and current employment” to be eligible.
There is a separate process for agricultural workers
The blueprint says agricultural workers will be
and handled through a “different process” to become citizens because of the role they play in providing food for Americans. It does not give details.
How the 1986 law was tougher
A crowd of 1,566 people are sworn in as U.S. citizens in New York City on Sept. 3, 1986. (AP Photo/Rick Maiman)
Immigrants were required to have lived continuously in the U.S.
does not list any requirements
for having lived continuously in the United States or having moved here before a certain date.
There was no separate process for people brought as children
1986 law: Nothing in the 1986 law differentiated between adults and children who were undocumented immigrants.
The blueprint states that ” individuals who entered the United States as minor children” would
“not face the same requirements”
because they “did not knowingly choose to violate any immigration laws.”
Immigrants were not eligible for federal benefits for five years
Undocumented immigrants were ineligible for
“federal financial assistance”
including Medicaid (with certain exceptions) and food stamps for five years after becoming permanent residents, with exceptions for the elderly, blind and disabled.
The blueprint states that individuals will be barred from
“accessing federal public benefits”
while they are on a probationary legal status, but there are no restrictions listed after that.
How the Senate proposal is tougher
A bipartisan group of senators announce a blueprint for an immigration overhaul on Jan. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Immigrants would be required to pay back taxes and fines
1986 law: The 1986 law did not require undocumented immigrants pay any fines or back taxes to be eligible.
The blueprint states that individuals will have to pay
“a fine and back taxes”
in order to earn probationary legal status. It does not specify how high the fine will be, how many years of back taxes or which federal taxes.
Immigrants would be required to go to the ‘back of the line’
No one would be eligible until the border is secured
for border security measures to be completed before undocumented immigrants could become permanent residents.
Senate proposal: New enforcement measures
for border security are required to be completed “before any immigrant onprobationary status can earn a green card,” with a commission of Southwestern political and community leaders playing a role.