Authored by Erica Mohai
The Arthur Endres Collection controlled by the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) contains government documents concerning immigration. CMS came into possession of the collection in the 1980s. The collection consists of documents Endres created or used during his tenure (1973-1989) as counsel for the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and International Law.
In 1981, the Executive branch tasked Congress with solving the growing problem of illegal aliens entering our country for work. In wasn’t until the 99th United States Congress (1985-86) that a solution came to fruition. A bill was presented in the Senate (S. 1200 Simpson-Mazzoli Act, later Immigration Reform and Control Act [IRCA] of 1986) to aid in the increasing influx of illegal immigrants. The Act made it unlawful for an employer to knowingly hire an illegal alien and imposed sanctions if the Act was not followed. IRCA required employers not only to inquire on their employees’ immigration status, but also attest to that status as correct. Employers were required to keep diligent records of employee’s immigration status for up to three years. In addition to creating policies for work status verification and record keeping, IRCA legalized illegal immigrants that entered and continuously resided within the country before January 1, 1982.
I chose two objects from the Endres Collection. The first is a three-page summary of a Conference Report during the legislation period of IRCA. The second is a news article discussing the reporting and verification regulations of S.1200. The purpose of choosing two objects was to show the social impact IRCA created on the most effected portion of the United States – the Southwest region. Bills, sanction provisions, and statutes can only show part of the story. It is important to see how people are realistically impacted by all legislation, especially immigration legislation.
The document entitled “Verification/Record Keeping Requirements” summarizes House Conference Report 99-1000 filed on October 14, 1986. Exactly what this document was used for is unclear, possibly internal use in understanding the amendments to the bill. This document is a tool for the users of the Endres Collection because it breaks down the last agreements between the two chambers of Congress before S.1200 was signed into law, just a mere twenty-two days later. This document is also a good study of the legislative branch at its best – compromising in service of a better nation.
The newspaper article was published in The San Antonio (Texas) Express News on December 30, 1984. The title is “Hispanic leaders lose touch with rank, file.” Although IRCA was not signed into law until 1986, it is clear that the bill addressed a hot button issue, especially in the Southwest. During this era, a large portion of illegal immigrants was from Mexico and they were settling in the Southwest. The article gives insight to the opinions of the people in that geographic region. In reading the article, many may be surprised to learn that polled Hispanics were in favor of stricter regulations and sanction on employers of illegal aliens. It seems that the general consensus was that while America is indeed the land of opportunity, it was important to Hispanic-Americans that illegal immigrants strive to earn that opportunity in a legal manner.
Conner, Roger. “Hispanic leaders lose touch with rank, file.” San Antonio Express News (San Antonio, TX), December 30, 1984.
Pew Research Center. “Mexican immigrants in the United States, 2008.” Last modified April 15, 2009. http://www.pewhispanic.org/2009/04/15/mexican-immigrants-in-the-united-states-2008/.
Reagan, Ronald. “Statement on signing the immigration reform and control act of 1986.” Speech, Washington, D.C., November 6, 1986. http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1986/110686b.htm.
United States House of Representatives. “All congressional actions with amendments.” Accessed March 23, 2014. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d099:SN01200:@@@S.
United States House of Representatives. “Conference report 99-1000.” Accessed March 22, 2014. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d099:SN01200:@@@L&summ2=m&%7CTOM:/bss/d099query.html.