It seems to happen every year but particularly during an election cycle. Will the government take action to legalize at least some of the over ten million undocumented individuals residing in the U.S? Many refer to it as an "amnesty". Others prefer to term it "a path to citizenship" Either way it generally means the same thing. Find or create a mechanism to give legal status to millions who don't currently qualify.
The last full Immigration amnesty that meaningfully addressed the general undocumented population took place over three decades ago. That law known as the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.
Those amnesty provisions primarily benefited and legalized two different classes of individuals.
- Undocumented seasonal agricultural workers
- Undocumented individuals who entered the United States before January 1, 1982 and had resided here continuously since then
Since that 1986 law there has been a number of provisions that gave a kind of amnesty but only to very limited populations. These include:
NACARA which only benefited certain Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Nicaraguans
The Cuban/Haitian Entrant Program which only benefited certain Cubans and Haitians
HRIFA which only benefited Haitian nationals and their dependents.
Many people also erroneously believe that Daca and TPS (both of which confer only a temporary status that does not provide residency) are amnesties.
You can read our entire series, "Who Gets A Green Card?" below: