IRCA Legalized Immigrants: 20 Decades Later

Nancy Rytina, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Nearly two decades have passed since the first of the 2.7 million illegal immigrants legalized under the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 obtained legal permanent resident (LPR) status. IRCA legalization immigrants generally had little formal schooling and limited job skills, leading to concerns about their ability to be economically self sufficient and integrate successfully into American society. Information regarding their subsequent achievements has major policy implications for future immigration reform efforts. Using the immigration and naturalization records of the Department of Homeland Security—one of the few sources of data on IRCA immigrants following legalization—this analysis presents information on the status upgrading of IRCA immigrants as reflected by naturalization and occupation change. Additionally, the IRCA population is survived to 2008, and selected demographic and economic characteristics are estimated using American Community Survey data to assess their current status relative to other immigrants.

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Presented in Poster Session 4