The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) was passed in 1996. It overhauled immigration enforcement and provided the basis for the massive deportation policies that exist today. Congress made it easier to deport illegal immigrants.
This law tightened the requirements for legal immigration, made it hard to apply for and receive asylum in this country, and increased immigration enforcement. It also increased penalties on immigrants who had violated U.S. immigration law. It did not matter whether they were illegal immigrants who violated immigration law or legal immigrants who had committed other crimes.
After 1996, it got easier to deport illegal immigrants who had been convicted of crimes, which included some that were not violent. It also made it easier to deport them over minor crimes. It was harder for them to get legal status to remain in this country.
Congress expanded which crimes made immigrants eligible for deportation. It also forced immigration law judges and Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) officers to exercise little flexibility in whether to deport or not deport these immigrants.
Even if an illegal immigrant was married to a U.S. citizen or qualified for a green card through a relative, this law made it harder to directly apply for legal status.
This law created more immigration enforcement making it harder for these immigrants to cross the southern border without being caught. This encouraged them to illegally settle with their families in this country. During President Barack Obama’s first term, more than 400,000 immigrants a year were deported due to increased enforcement of this immigration law.
Recently, many Democrats including former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have severely criticized President Donald Trump’s administration’s policy of separating children from their parents after illegally crossing into the U.S. Under this policy, federal judges are charging these parents with illegal entry.
This law provided the motivation and provisions to discourage other immigrants from making illegal entry into this country.
During 1996, this law was supported by both the Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Mrs. Clinton and her Democrat cohorts should blame the culprit for signing this bill into law – former President Bill Clinton.
Silvestre Moreno Jr., Mercedes