The United States toughened its immigration laws in 1996 by passing and implementing the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. That legislation significantly changed existing laws regarding illegal immigrants.
Congress had sought to restructure immigration laws in the wake of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1994 approval in California of anti-immigrant legislation known as “Proposition 187,” and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, according to Human Rights Watch
. A federal judge would find Proposition 187 unconstitutional in 1997, according to the Los Angeles Times
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Through the IIRIRA, Congress sought to “strengthen and streamline” U.S. immigration laws, according to Cornell University Law School
. It said the act sought to:
Enhance border control by imposing criminal penalties for racketeering, smuggling illegal aliens into the country and using or creating fraudulent, immigration-related documents.
Increase “interior enforcement” of immigration laws by the federal government.
Establish employment eligibility verification guidelines, including sanctions for employers that fail to obey federal rules regarding unfair immigration-related employment practices, and new rules regarding the disbursement of government aid to aliens.
Laws.com said the IIRIRA
also put in place requirements that:
Illegal immigrants convicted of minor misdemeanors became eligible for deportation, which previously hadn’t been the case.
If someone lived illegally in the U.S. for more than 365 days, he or she would be banned from returning to the country for 10 years.
If someone lived illegally in the U.S. for 365 days or less, he or she would be prohibited from returning for three years.
Any deported person would be permanently prohibited from entering the U.S. if he or she returned before the end of the period for which he or she was banned.
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The IIRIRA also authorized the Immigration and Naturalization Service to use "secret evidence" against aliens in various immigration proceedings if the evidence was deemed classified and the INS considered it relevant to the case, according to Digital Commons
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