Everyone seems to be talking about immigration reform. The 1986 IRCA didn't win friends for Republicans even though it was an example of bipartisan legislation many years in the making and included employer accountability, border enforcement, and amnesty for millions. 27 years later the illegals have tripled, the border isn't enforced, and employers are damned if they do and damned if they don't. The government bureaucracy did expand, however.
Signed in November 1986, IRCA required all persons to show authorization to work in the U.S., increased border enforcement, and created a legalization program for undocumented immigrants who met eligibility requirements. While critics complain that IRCA failed to prevent future waves of unauthorized immigration, they often forget the important things IRCA accomplished.
IRCA legalized approximately 3 million immigrants who met strict eligibility requirements, 1.3 million of whom legalized under the special agricultural legalization program. Obtaining legal status allowed unauthorized immigrants to improve their lives and contribute even more to the U.S. economy.