Naturalization Rates among IRCA Immigrants: A 2009 Update

On October 27, the DHS Office of Immigration Statistics released a compiled Fact Sheet which compares the naturalization rates of IRCA(Immigration Reform and Control Act) legalized immigrants up until 2009 with the rates of other immigrants who arrived during the same period or obtained in a LPR(legal permanent resident) status.

The IRCA was passed back in 1986 and created pathways to citizenship for many different groups of immigrants. The two main groups that benefited were immigrants who had always resided in the US illegally before January 1, 1982 and special agricultural workers (SAWs) who were required to have worked in US agriculture during specific years ending on May 1 for at least 90 days (1984, 1985, and 1986). In order to gain LPR status, IRCA immigrants were required to meet certain requirements and standards.

All of the data for the Fact Sheet was gathered through the Department of Homeland Security’s records. No individual below the age 18 was included and children who may have received legal status because of their parents were also excluded. All rates were compared amongst immigrants during the same time period. Some of the findings and results of the Fact Sheet were that 2.7 million immigrants achieved LPR status under IRCA, naturalization rates were lowest among individuals who gained status through IRCA provisions and as time went on the percentage of immigrants who were naturalized gradually increased. Other conclusions from the Fact Sheet are that fact that Mexican-born SAWs had a lower rate of naturalization than other groups of immigrants and non-Mexican born immigrants were not subject to the same extra requirements others were.

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