Comprehensive Immigration Reform

The ILRC, a national nonprofit resource center, since its inception in 1979, has been at the forefront of promoting and defending immigrants’ rights.  The ILRC was involved in advocacy, policy, and implementation efforts before, during, and right after the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) and has continued these efforts throughout the decades, and especially now with the introduction of a new Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) bill.

History of ILRC’s Involvement with IRCA

The ILRC was actively engaged in the policy debate regarding immigration reform in the early 1980s, and once IRCA passed, the ILRC assumed a major role in providing training, technical assistance, and advocacy to practitioners and immigrants throughout the nation.  We published the only comprehensive practitioner guide on Phase I and II of legalization and distributed thousands of copies to organizations throughout the US.  The ILRC also distributed outreach materials, developed a group processing workshop model for legalization cases, met with local and national INS offices, and conducted dozens of all-day trainings for practitioners. 

ILRC’s Involvement with Immigration Reform in the 2000s

After IRCA, the ILRC continued to be actively engaged in the policy debates around comprehensive immigration reform, especially during 2006, 2007, 2010, and now.  The ILRC has provided analysis on legislative proposals to advocates and community members, assisted in drafting legislative proposals, participated in grassroots and direct lobbying, counseled other organizations on the proposed bills, as well as educated the immigrant community through various media outlets and community meetings.

The ILRC’s Involvement Today

In addition to our local and statewide advocacy efforts, we have recently expanded our staff to include an attorney that is based in D.C. to better engage in the national efforts around immigration Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  Our main goal is to bring the voice and perspective of California immigrants to immigration reform advocacy efforts in D.C.  Although advocacy around immigration reform is not new, there have been few efforts to elevate the voices of immigrant communities to the national conversation.   The ILRC, although a resource center for private and non-profit immigration practitioners, also collaborates with the immigrant community—in the form of participating in community events, providing presentations and consultations, creation of materials, civic engagement, and organizing.   We believe that it is critical for Members of Congress to be informed about the obstacles that immigrants might face when trying to benefit from a path to legalization.

The ILRC has also long been committed to changing current discriminatory and punitive immigration laws and policies to ensure that the fundamental American values of fairness and due process are upheld for all immigrants.  As part of this work, the ILRC has joined forces with Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) and National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers' Guild (NIP/NLG) to form the Immigrant Justice Network (IJN).  To read more about IJN and access it’s resources, please click here.

More recently, on April 17, 2013, eight United States Senators, known as the “Gang of Eight,” introduced an immigration reform bill (S. 744) into the Senate titled “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.”  This bill offers an eventual path to citizenship to those who are here unlawfully, provides for heightened border security measures, and also reforms certain aspects of family and employment based visas.  The ILRC joins other advocates in applauding this important first step towards modernizing our broken immigration system, but more work must be done to ensure that this legislation is fair, inclusive of all families, and consistent with American values of justice.  It is important to emphasize that an immigration reform program has only been proposed and nothing has yet passed or become law.  We will follow the immigration reform debate and post helpful documents and materials for advocates and immigrant communities on this page.


Family-Based Immigration: Now and Under S.744

Immigration reform has only been approved by the Senate, but as the bill currently stands, S.744 changes several things about the family-based system and also adds merit-based tracks.  This document summarizes the proposed changes and additions. 

Charts describing the Paths to Citizenship in S.744 – updated August 13, 2013

The charts lay out the path to citizenship for undocumented individuals, DREAMers, and agricultural workers based on the Senate bill “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013” (S.744).  It also summarizes the eligibility requirements and bars at each stage of the process.

Powerpoint on Immigration Reform

The powerpoint focuses on the paths to citizenship, future flow, and enforcement provisions that are in the Senate immigration reform bill titled “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” (S. 744).

Lessons Learned from the Immigration Reform & Control Act of 1986

Drawing from our experiences during and after IRCA, we offer a brief analysis of some of the legalization aspects of the recently introduced Senate Bill—the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.”

Ghosts from the Past: SAW and Future Legalization are Not the Same Thing

Mark Silverman, ILRC Director of Immigration Policy, discusses concerns about fraud under the SAW program and why fraud is less likely to occur under a future legalization program.

Principles for Immigration Reform that Promote Fairness for All Immigrants

The ILRC, along with WDA, IDP, and NIP, summarize and discuss some of our immigration system’s most egregious aspects, outline five main principles to advocate for with immigration reform, and caution against possible new harmful provisions that we would have to fight for decades to come.

Press Release: ILRC Urges Congress to Expand Due Process Reforms & Broaden Commitment to Families

The ILRC joins other advocates in applauding this important first step towards modernizing our broken immigration system. However, more work must be done to ensure that this legislation is fair, inclusive of all families, and consistent with American values of justice.

Lessons Learned from Amnesty in 1986

"The Immigration and Naturalization Service, Community-based Organizations, and the Legalization Experience: Lessons for the Self-Help Immigration Phenomenon,” is a law review article written by ILRC’s founder, Bill Hing, in which he discusses lessons learned from the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.