The current debate over the demise of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and President Donald J. Trump’s push for immigration reform is the latest in a series of proposals to deal with the U.S. immigration system.
1986: The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) was backed by President Ronald Reagan and passed by the U.S. Senate (69-30) and the House (230-166). Regan signed the measure on Nov. 6. It granted amnesty to 3.2 million undocumented immigrants; and eventually led to citizenship for one-third of them within the first give years of eligibility.
1986: IRCA included the Special Agricultural Workers provision, which allowed undocumented residents who proved they had worked at least 90 days in agriculture over a 12-month period ending in May 1 of 1984, 1985 or 1986 could apply for temporary residency. The program was designed for 350,000 applicants, but more than 1.3 million applied.
1994: California voters approved Proposition 187, also known as the Save Our State initiative, only to see it gutted by the courts. The measure, backed by Gov. Pete Wilson, sought to bar undocumented residents from using non-emergency health care, public education and other services. Political experts point to the proposition as the reason Republicans began to lose statewide elections when Latinos registered to vote en masse.
2001: The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act is introduced in the U.S. Senate by Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah and Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois, but fails to win passage. It would have granted conditional status to qualified individuals for six years (arrived in the U.S. before age 16, have graduated from high school, lived in the country for 5 consecutive years, etc.), after which they would be eligible to apply for permanent status. The bill would have helped about 2 million undocumented residents. Similar versions were introduced in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 but failed.
2005: HR 4437, introduced by Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, sought to cut down on undocumented immigration by requiring double-layered fencing on the México-U.S. border, end ‘catch and release” of those caught trying to sneak into the country, mandate employers verify workers’ legal status, and, would make it a crime for anyone to help an undocumented resident stay in the country. The measure, which led to massive protests around the country, was passed in the House but failed in the Senate.
2006: The U.S. Senate passed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, but failed in the House. The measure would have increased security on the southern border, allow long-term undocumented residents to gain legal status, and introduced a ‘blue card’ visa program for guest workers.
2008: President George W. Bush initiates Secure Communities, a pilot program designed to get dangerous undocumented criminals off the streets by getting local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration officials. The program was expanded in 2011 by President Obama.
2012: President Barack Obama used an executive order to introduce the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to allow undocumented residents who came to the country as minors to be protected against deportation and get work permits. About 800,000 took advantage of the program, which required a 2-year renewal.
2013: The so-called Gang of Eight (four Republican and four Democratic U.S. Senators) shepherded the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act to passage. The bill – which would have provided a path to citizenship for undocumented residents, expanded the employment verification system, and, included an agricultural worker program – was never brought up for a vote in the House.
2014: Obama tried to expand DACA to cover additional undocumented residents, but was thwarted by the courts. A similar program for parents, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, called DAPA, was announced at the same time. It, too, was struck down by a federal district court. The U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked, 4-4, in 2016; meaning that the lower court decision stood.
2017: Republican Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia introduce the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act in February. The bill would cut in half the number of green cards issued and give priority to high-skilled workers. Trump announced his support for the bill.
2017: President Donald J. Trump announces he will rescind DACA and ask Congress to pass the DREAM Act and other immigration-related legislation.