The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act granted amnesty to millions of undocumented immigrants and was passed by Ronald Reagan who is considered by many to be the “father of modern conservatism”. In 2016 amnesty is a four-letter word amongst Republican politicians and many prefer to deport as many undocumented immigrants as possible, up to 12 million. This current nationalist, conservative attitude towards immigration helps illustrate the fact that anti-Mexican immigrant sentiment, legislation and rhetoric in American politics has increased since 1986. Laws like California’s Proposition 187and Arizona’s SB1070 along with the rhetoric of American politicians like Donald Trump give insight into the institutionalization of xenophobia in the United States of America in the past 30 years.
The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act is also known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, after Roman L. Mazzoli and Alan K. Simpson who came from opposing parties. This demonstrates the bipartisan support for immigration reform that included amnesty for undocumented immigrants. The bill gave undocumented immigrants a chance to gain legal status if they met certain requirements outlined in the legislation. These requirements included: proving that one “maintained a physical presence in the US since January 1st, 1982, possess a clean criminal record, and provide proof of registration within the Selective Service,” (Mees). These provisions are strikingly similar to the ones outlined in the Obama administrations immigration proposals like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA which was introduced in 2012. In order to participate in the DACA program one must prove they came to the United States of America before the age of...
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...lions more immigrants being exposed to the abuses that often take place in immigration detention centers. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers would grow in number, be given more authority to do raids and come into contact with more and more immigrants, again, mostly from Mexico. This is also a form of structural violence because encounters with law enforcement can be deadly for people of color and an increase in ICE troops and raids would make that tragic possibility all the more likely.
In the past 3 decades, there has been a measurable rise in rhetoric and legislation that is negative towards undocumented immigrants, especially those of Mexican origin. Although according to Gallup 72% of Americans think immigration is a good thing, the election of Donald Trump and others with nationalistic immigration preferences sends mixed signals for the future.
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