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What happened to millions of immigrants granted legal status under Reagan?

The Atlantis investigations stem from a 2009 lawsuit in which former BP subcontractor Ken Abbott alleged that the platform lacked critical engineering documents and posed serious safety risks. Foto: AP/Gerald Herbert

WASHINGTON - In 1986, Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, a piece of legislation granting legal status to undocumented immigrants in the United States that was both more sweeping in ambition and smaller in scale than Barack Obama's executive action last week. The bill was more ambitious in that it sought to create a definitive solution to immigration (that, obviously, did not pan out). It was smaller in scale in that it ultimately touched fewer immigrants than Obama's action could today.

Three million undocumented immigrants applied for legal status under IRCA. Ultimately, about 2.7 million received it. Because the bill required immigrants to have entered the country prior to 1982, beneficiaries of that amnesty who have stayed in the U.S. have now been here more than three decades. Their lives, in short, could reveal a lot about the long-term and inter-generational consequences of legalization...

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