Bryn Siegel


This Article attempts to inform the reader on how politics surrounding the term itself has distracted lawmakers, and caused an ineffective backlash against all legalization measures. The deadlock which has prevented George W. Bush’s administration from making any significant changes to the INA can be largely attributed to this fundamental concern over amnesty...In an effort to resolve the dilemma of how to address the undocumented immigrant problem, this Article proposes two changes to the INA. First, Congress should reenact Section 245(i). This code section provides an opportunity for undocumented immigrants to legalize their status. Section 245(i) applies only to a narrow class of immigrants who meet the specifications prescribed by the code, and it requires applicants to pay a substantial fee. Second, the Article suggests reexamining the three and ten-year bars, which were put into place to deter illegal entry, but in effect have exacerbated the problem by creating a serious disincentive for undocumented immigrants to exit the country. This Article reflects on the current state of immigration reform, and specifically dissects the role that amnesty has played in preventing lawmakers from enacting meaningful changes to the INA. Section I provides an overview of the laws at stake in this Article. The Article provides a brief introduction to “the first amnesty” and a detailed chronology of two measures which should be the subject of debate in any immigration reform initiative. Section I concludes with a discussion about how amnesty factors into the current proposals for comprehensive immigration reform. Section II discusses the term amnesty and how it has been used within the context of immigration debates. The Article then applies this knowledge to the proposal for reenacting Section 245(i). Section III specifically addresses the Article’s proposals for reform; reenacting Section 245(i) permanently, and eliminating the bars to reentry. In conclusion, the Article provides an overview of the current debate, and responds to arguments in opposition to the two main proposals set forth in this Article.