It has been more than 30 years since the passage of the last comprehensive immigration reform bill, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). The main reason for this, probably, is the fact that the Democrats have refused to go along with the Republican demand for effective interior enforcement of our immigration laws.

IRCA was based on an agreement to create a legalization program for undocumented immigrants who already were in the country in return for interior enforcement measures that would prevent a new group of undocumented immigrants from taking the place of the ones being legalized.

The Democrats got a legalization program, but the enforcement measures the Republicans were supposed to get were never fully implemented.


Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) has provided the Democrats with a chance to show that they are ready again to accept a bill that includes effective enforcement measures. He has introduced a bill that combines serious enforcement provisions the Republicans want with benefit provisions the Democrats want.

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Published originally on The Hill.


About the Author
Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an Executive Branch Immigration Law Expert for three years; he subsequently served as the immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for twenty years. He also has been a policy advisor for the DHS Office of Information Sharing and Collaboration under a contract with TKC Communications, and he has been in private practice as an immigration lawyer at Steptoe & Johnson.