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In 1990, the United States Border Patrol arrested approximately one million illegals (Dillin, 1990). Significant as this number may seem, it parallels the rate of arrest that existed prior to the passage of the Immigration and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). This phenomenon suggests that the Act has failed to accomplish one of its primary objectives: to control illegal immigration to the United States.

The IRCA represented the first major change in US immigration policy in twenty-two years. In seeking to prevent illegal entry and to gain control over the undocumented population already in the country, it contained two key provisions. First, it sanctioned fines, prison terms, or both, against employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens. The intent of Congress was clear: to use employer sanctions to reduce the “pull” or attractiveness of American jobs to aliens contemplating illegal entry into the country.


This article was originally published in International Migration, DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2435.1994.tb00163.x



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