Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants
Definition of Amnesty: Amnesty for illegal immigrants is defined as the government’s pardon for
violating policies related to immigration or politics. The federal government forgives these
individuals for using false documentation (examples include social security numbers, identification
cards and driver’s license among other documents) to more easily get employment in the U.S. and
to be able to remain in the country. Amnesties allow illegal immigrants or undocumented aliens to
gain permanent residency in the United States
Immigration Amnesties in the United States: The first United States amnesty was in 1986, and
it allowed millions of illegal immigrants to receive a Green Card which could then lead to U.S.
citizenship in later years. Before this first amnesty was granted, the United States government had
only given amnesty on a case by case basis. In the cases where the government gave amnesty to
illegal immigrants, it was only done on a small scale. For a period of over 200 years this was how
the government granted amnesty, but in 1986 Congress introduced new immigration legislature.
They passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act or IRCA which gave approximately 2.8 million
illegal immigrants legal status in the United States. In addition, their immediate relatives or
dependents which included about 143,000 individuals also qualified for the same status. The result
of the amnesty introduced by Congress was that illegal immigration grew in significant numbers.
When the Immigration Reform and Control Act was passed, it was only meant to be a “one time”
amnesty but it actually turned out to be the beginning of many amnesties that would follow. To date
there have been additional amnesties that have been granted to illegal immigrants which include:
1. Immigration and Reform Control Act (IRCA), 1986: A blanket amnesty for some 2.7 million
2. Section 245(i) Amnesty, 1994: A temporary rolling amnesty for 578,000 illegal aliens.