Masters Thesis

Formulating a policy on illegal aliens living in the U.S.

(United States Department of Homeland Security, 2010) estimated in the country, the continuation of illegal immigration despite legislative, administrative, and enforcement initiatives over the last two decades represents a clear failure of national sovereignty and the economic security objectives of U.S. immigration policy (Haines and Rosenblum, 1999). Though there are many issues associated with illegal immigration in the U.S., the purpose of this thesis is to evaluate the effects of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 and determine what changes must be made in order to formulate a policy option using an “IRCA-like” model in addressing the current illegal alien population in the country. Under IRCA, legalization, employer sanctions, and enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border were the key tenets. IRCA is perceived as a failure because there are more illegal aliens today compared to when IRCA was passed in 1986. The cause of this failure is simply the lack of commitment and enforcement of the provisions of IRCA by the federal government. Chapter 3 of this thesis clearly shows where and how the failures occurred. More importantly, identifying and learning from the mistakes of IRCA is paramount to developing the next immigration reform bill so that the same mistakes are not repeated and to meeting the original objectives of IRCA when it was initially passed in 1986. The majority of immigrants to the U.S. are lawful citizens who have contributed to, as well as benefited from the country. But there are those who are illegally in the U.S. with no regard for the law and strong desire to take advantage of benefits at whatever cost. Thus, a nation that does not or cannot control its borders will find itself prey to aliens willing to defraud the system for jobs, welfare, free schools and health care. Using the same key tenets of IRCA, the U.S. must first secure the U.S.-Mexico border by building a fence along the entire U.S.-Mexico border. Second, it must implement improvements on the current H2 visa program by improving “approval” turnaround for “working visa” applicants and monitoring non-immigrant visas (student visa and tourist visa) more frequently. Third, it must implement a one-time “2-year Employer Sanction -Legalization Plan” to “push” those who are currently violating the law and grant amnesty to “pull” those illegal aliens eligible for targeted amnesty. After a 2-year application period, the U.S. government must increase penalties on employer sanction violations and visa overstayer violations as a major deterrence to stemming the tide of illegal migration to the U.S.

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