In September, 1996, almost two decades before Donald Trump began unleashing the anti-immigrant tirades that have led to his nomination as the Republican presidential candidate, a Republican-controlled Congress passed a draconian anti-immigrant law in a late night session, without discussion or debate, by attaching it to a veto-proof military appropriations bill shortly before that year's presidential election.

The bill was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, the husband of this year's Democratic presidential candidate. This law, which Donald Trump had nothing to do with and cannot be held responsible for, is known as the Illegal Immigrant Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). It is still very much in force today.

This comment will not discuss all of the many features of this law which were meant to curtail immigrants rights and to make legal status in the US harder to obtain, while imposing new and drastic punishment on immigrants who did not have such status. This would take a whole series of comments much longer than this one.

This law was widely regarded as a "backlash" against the "browning" of America resulting from the 1965 immigration reform act abolishing the whites-only immigration quotas that had been in place for more than 40 years before, since the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924, see:

Catherine Tactaquin,

I will provide only two examples of how the not-so-dead-hand of this 20th century law is making life harder for immigrants in the 21st century.

The first example deals with the affidavit of support requirements for family sponsored immigrants that were introduced by IIRIRA. The second will discuss the notorious, draconian 3-10 year bar for so-called "unlawful presence" in the US.

These comments do not purport to be an exhaustive analysis of these provisions. They will only illustrate, based on examples from my own clients' experiences, the unnecessary and irrational hardships that are being inflicted on immigrants who are otherwise qualified for legal status in the US and who are leading productive, law-abiding lives in America.

I will not give any details that would identify the clients mentioned below other than to say that none of them are either Latinos or Muslims, the two groups that Donald Trump has singled out for his strongest and most frequent anti-immigrant attacks.

To be continued in Part 2.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants obtain work visas and green cards.

Roger's practice is concentrated in work visas through H-1B specialty occupation employment, O-1 extraordinary ability, J-1 training, and green cards through labor certification and opposite sex or same sex marriage. His email address is