- A bipartisan group of senators put forward a plan Monday to give many of the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. This blueprint has sparked comparisons to a 1986 law which gave amnesty to 2.7 million people.
- There are some major differences, however. The Senate proposal is much tougher in several aspects than the law signed by President Ronald Reagan.
How the two programs would be similar
- President Ronald Reagan gestures during a news conference at the White House in 1986. (AP Photo/Scott Stewart)
Immigrants must not have a criminal background
- 1986 law: Undocumented immigrants could not qualify for temporary or permanent residence if they had been convicted of a felony or three misdemeanors in the U.S.
- Senate proposal: The blueprint states that individuals with "a serious criminal background" or who "pose a threat to our national security" will not be eligible and may be deported.
Immigrants must have an understanding of English and civics
- 1986 law: Undocumented immigrants needed to meet "minimum requirements for an understanding of English and a knowledge of American history and government" or show they were studying those subjects. Those 65 and older were exempted.
- Senate proposal: The blueprint states that individuals would need to "learn English and civics" before they were eligible for permanent residency, but not for a probationary status.
Immigrants must show a history of employment
- 1986 law: Undocumented immigrants were not eligible if they could not show a history of employment or otherwise looked like they might be likely to end up on public assistance.
- Senate proposal: The blueprints states that individuals will need to "demonstrate a history of work in the United States, and current employment" to be eligible.
There is a separate process for agricultural workers
- 1986 law: Undocumented immigrants who had worked at least 90 days in seasonal agriculture in the previous year were allowed to apply in a separate program. Approximately 1.1 million people qualified under this provision.
- Senate proposal: The blueprint says agricultural workers will be "treated differently" and handled through a "different process" to become citizens because of the role they play in providing food for Americans. It does not give details.
How the 1986 law was tougher
- A crowd of 1,566 people are sworn in as U.S. citizens in New York City on Sept. 3, 1986. (AP Photo/Rick Maiman)
Immigrants were required to have lived continuously in the U.S.
- Senate proposal: The blueprint does not list any requirements for having lived continuously in the United States or having moved here before a certain date.
There was no separate process for people brought as children
- 1986 law: Nothing in the 1986 law differentiated between adults and children who were undocumented immigrants.