refugees and established better coordination between the president and the Congress on this issue.
A major focus of recent legislation has been how to deal with problems associated with illegal immigrants, including the large numbers already living in the United States. The primary purpose of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) was to decrease the number of illegal immigrants by limiting their flow and by legalizing the status of illegal aliens already residing here. To accomplish the first goal, IRCA strengthened the Border Patrol and established penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants—the so-called employer sanctions. It also set up a program that would admit agricultural workers when not enough native farmworkers were available; however, this program has not been used to date. The result of IRCA was the legalization of about 2.7 million persons who were residing in the United States before 1986 as illegal immigrants. The role of employer sanctions has been widely debated (Fix, 1991), but those established by IRCA, even in combination with a strengthened Border Patrol, may not have significantly diminished the flow of illegal immigrants (Bean et al., 1990).
The Immigration Act of 1990 substantially revised the laws relating to legal immigrants for the first time in 25 years. It continued the policy of family reunification by allowing an unlimited number of visas for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens; it addressed labor issues by reducing the number of visas for unskilled workers, simultaneously increasing the number of visas for priority workers and professionals with U.S. job offers; it made available 10,000 visas for investors with $1 million or more that they intended to use to create employment for at least 10 U.S. residents; and it promoted a more heterogeneous immigrant stream by opening "diversity" immigrant visas for "underrepresented" countries (countries that were adversely affected by the 1965 immigration amendments), with 40 percent of the visas for the years 1992 to 1994 reserved for Irish applicants.9
The vigorously debated Illegal Immigration Act of 1996 also sought to reduce illegal immigration in two ways. First, it set up a pilot project through which employers can verify by telephone the immigration status of potential workers. This effort is aimed at stemming the use of fraudulent identification records and thus hindering illegal immigrants in their search for work. Second, the act bolstered the Border Patrol by adding guards and by strengthening the physical barriers where crossing traffic is heaviest.
Although immigration policy is not their principal focus, several pieces of recent legislation have a bearing on immigration and offer examples of the ways in which the federal government has been developing immigrant policies. The