2 J. on Migration & Hum. Sec. 1 (2014)

handle is hein.journals/jmighs2 and id is 1 raw text is: 

       Journal on Migration
       and Human Security


Legalization Programs and the

Integration of Unauthorized

Immigrants: A Comparison of S. 744

and IRCA



Maria E. Enchautegui
Urban Institute



    Executive Summary

    Experiences under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986
    (IRCA) may prove to be a poor guide for understanding how smoothly
    today's unauthorized immigrants will integrate into the economy under
    reform proposals such as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and
    Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744). While IRCA provided a relatively
    quick path to legal permanent resident status, S. 744 proposes a decade-
    long process with much attendant uncertainty. This and other provisions in
    S. 744 may adversely affect immigrants' integration and economic mobility.


The legalization of undocumented immigrants is one of the most contentious issues in
immigration reform discussions. One proposal emblematic of these discussions is contained
in the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,
passed by the Senate in June 2013 (S. 744). If this bill were to become law, unauthorized
immigrants would be placed on a 10-year pathway to legalization with citizenship three
years after that. In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) provided a
pathway to legalization and citizenship to unauthorized immigrants. IRCA was the first and
most comprehensive legislation to address the issue of unauthorized immigration in the
United States, with 2.7 million immigrants becoming legal residents under it (Kerwin 2010).
Not surprisingly, TRCA is commonly used as a point of reference in current immigration
reform discussions.
Research on the potential economic and fiscal effects of the legalization provision of S.
744 draws heavily from the 1986 IRCA experience, particularly concerning the expected
earnings growth and occupational mobility of the would-be legalized. Earnings growth and
upward occupational mobility mean larger benefits for immigrant families as well as larger
benefits for the economy, larger tax revenues, and less reliance on government programs
(Enchautegui et al. 2013; Institute of Taxation 2013; Lynch and Oakford 2013; Kossoudji
and Cobb-Clark 2002). The IRCA experience can be used as a guide to the effects of the
                             Reproduced with permission of  T he Urban Institute,


JMLS Volume 2 Number 1 (2014): 1-13

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