[The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986] Public Law 99-603 (Act of 11/6/86), which was passed in order to control and deter illegal immigration to the United States. Its major provisions stipulate legalization of undocumented aliens who had been continuously unlawfully present since 1982, legalization of certain agricultural workers, sanctions for employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers, and increased enforcement at U.S. borders
-U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services
IRCA was an omnibus immigration law, an attempt to form a grand bargain that would take care of many immigration policy disputes. Part of it was the introduction of “employer sanctions,” saying that it would be illegal, in the future, for employers to hire illegal aliens; the other part was the legalization package. The promise was that sanctions would eliminate the lure of jobs in the U.S. economy and the legalization package would put several important groups of illegal aliens on the path to citizenship, thus shrinking the size of both the current and future illegal populations.
-David North, CIS Senior Fellow