In 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, also known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, which granted amnesty to illegal immigrants who could prove they’d been in the country for a set time, in exchange for tougher enforcement of immigrant labor laws and the border.
According to an in-depth look at the 1986 law by the Center for Immigration Studies four years ago, the IRCA directly resulted in nearly 3 million illegals being granted legal status, but several million more were also granted legal status in later years through follow-on migration by family members.
According to NumbersUSA, Congress also passed several additional legislative “fixes” to the 1986 law in later years that resulted in a few million more immigrants being granted legal status.
However, while the amnesty portion of the IRCA appeared to be fully implemented, the same cannot be said of the enforcement side of the equation, according to an article published by The Washington Post in 2013.
The tough restrictions on employers hiring illegal immigrants were watered down and filled with loopholes to such an extent as to be rendered almost meaningless, and the funding for increased border security never fully materialized through congressional appropriations.
Meanwhile, as millions of immigrants obtained legal status, with some going on to become naturalized citizens, there began an increasingly noticeable demographic shift in states such as California, which has had an even more noticeable political consequence.
According to 270toWin, California transformed from a fairly reliable red state to one that is now solid blue, a shift that coincides with a massive influx of Hispanic migrants.
Indeed, the last time California voted Republican in a presidential election was 1988, just two years after the 1986 amnesty but before the effects of the law had been fully realized. The state has voted overwhelmingly Democrat ever since, by an almost 2-1 margin in the 2016 election.
This is why Democrats have been pushing so hard for another round of amnesty for illegal immigrants, one that will likely be orders of magnitude bigger and more influential than the one in 1986. And that’s what President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was really all about.
Rest assured, as Democrats talk about doing something for the “DREAMers” of DACA, in reality they are looking at the much broader community of illegals, a community estimated to be as large as 11-15 million, if not more.
If we take away only two lessons from the 1986 amnesty law, it should be that amnestied illegals will tend to side with the Democrats, and that any tougher enforcement measures or restrictions should be put into place before any sort of amnesty is offered.
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