A window on immigration reform : implementing the Immigration Reform and Control Act in Los Angeles

by Elizabeth S. Rolph, Abby Robyn

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Responding to growing concerns that the United States was fast losing control of its borders to illegal immigration, Congress enacted the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). At its heart, the statute represents an effort to control illegal immigration by reducing the opportunities for illegal immigrants to find employment. At the same time, recognizing that a substantial number of illegal immigrants already had established themselves as an integral part of the economic and social fabric of the nation, the statute also provided that longtime residents could convert to legal status and eventually gain citizenship. This study examines the implementation of IRCA in Los Angeles, the nation's most important "gateway city" for illegal immigration. Understanding how and why the law is being interpreted and applied as it is in this locale helps explain outcomes in a critical location and sheds light on national implementation.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Joint report immigration series. The joint report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1988 to 1993 that included documents published jointly with other organizations, which transmitted major research findings and final research.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.