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Fairness for Immigrants who Play by the Rules --The Republican Alternative to President Clintonís Amnesty for up to Three Million Illegal Aliens

November 1, 2000


Legal immigrants and those who seek to come to the United States legally, who have played by the rules, deserve our help. President Clinton and congressional Democrats want to give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens and grant legal status to lawbreakers.

The Republican Plan:

The Republican proposal -- contained in the Commerce, Justice, State Department Appropriations Bill passed by the House and the Senate -- embodies true fairness for immigrants. It unites immigrant families and rewards those who play by the rules. It is pro-family and pro-immigrant:

Reunite Families

  • There are more than one million spouses and minor children of permanent resident aliens who are on a waiting list for the immediate relatives of permanent residents. They must wait for up to six years for visas to become available. They must endure long and cruel separations from their loved ones -- as they cannot visit the United States while on the waiting list. Our proposal grants special temporary visas to those spouses and minor children who have waited for more than 3 years for green cards to become available. They would be allowed to wait in the United States with their husbands or wives and their parents, and work if they choose. When green cards become available, they could adjust their status to that of permanent resident aliens.

  • Citizens who marry foreigners overseas must wait for up to 18 months before their spouses can join them in the United States while the INS completes paperwork. Our proposal would allow foreign spouses and minor children to come immediately to the U.S. and stay on temporary visas until the INS has finished green card processing.

Close the Books on the 1986 Amnesty

  • There is one group of illegal aliens seeking amnesty who deserve our help. These are the 400,000 "late amnesty" aliens, those who met the conditions set out for amnesty under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and yet may have been wrongly prevented by the INS from receiving amnesty.

  • After the IRCA application deadline for amnesty passed, aliens filed class action lawsuits claiming that the INS wrongly refused to accept their applications or discouraged them from applying for amnesty even though they met the requirement of having continuously resided in the United States since before 1982. The INS acted in the mistaken belief that an alienís short absence from the United States broke the continuous residence required for amnesty.

  • Our proposal would allow those aliens who were members of the classes who sued INS to apply anew for the IRCA amnesty. If they can show that they meet IRCAís requirements, they would be awarded amnesty. We would not create any new amnesty, but would complete an old program.

President Clintonís Plan:

"Registry" Amnesty

  • The first of the Presidentís three amnesty proposals would provide amnesty to any illegal alien who can show that he or she has resided in the U.S. since the end of 1985. New INS data places the number of such illegal aliens at 1.9 million.

  • This type of amnesty actually precipitates even more illegal immigration, as individuals are encouraged in the belief that if they can just elude the Border Patrol and stay underground for a few years, they will eventually get amnesty themselves. A large-scale amnesty could plunge us into a new immigration crisis. It is no surprise that illegal immigration skyrocketed after the 1986 amnesty.

  • This type of amnesty invites massive fraud. It is easy for aliens to purchase documents that show they have resided in the United States since a given date. The 1986 amnesty program was rife with fraud.

"Parity" Amnesty

  • The second amnesty would provide amnesty for illegal aliens from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Haiti and Liberia. The number of illegal aliens who would receive amnesty ranges from a 500,000 to over 1.5 million.

  • Salvadorans and Guatemalans have already received the relief they demanded in 1997. After the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act changed the requirements of suspension of deportation, Salvadorans and Guatemalans asked that they be able to pursue suspension of deportation using the more lenient pre-1996 standards. That is exactly what we gave them in the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act of 1997.

  • Nicaraguans and Cubans did receive green cards under NACARA. However, there is a big difference between those who suffered under a Communist totalitarian regime the U.S. government opposed and fled the country, and those who left a country where there was a government we supported (such as in El Salvador and Guatemala).

  • Honduras did not have a civil war, but has had a democratically elected government since 1982. And Haitians who had a fair claim to permanent residence received it in 1998. As for Liberians, the Attorney General does not believe that conditions in Liberia warrant giving them Temporary Protected Status.


  • The Administration wants to bring back the 245(i) program, another form of amnesty. This allows illegal aliens to legalize their status by paying a fine of $1,000. Reviving 245(i) is an incentive for illegal immigration. Allowing illegal aliens to adjust status in the U.S. would reward them for violating the law and would serve as an open invitation for those waiting in line to enter the U.S. illegally.

Contact: George Fishman 202-225-5727