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Illegal immigration has become one of the key political issues of the 1990s especially in border states such as California The Bureau of the Census estimates that there are now 4 million illegal aliens living in the United States and that about 300000 more settle permanently each year Four million illegal immigrants is undeniably a large number of people but it is far below the invading army of 8 million 10 million aliens regularly reported in the media and by anti-immigrant lobbyists Illegal aliens constitute only about 15 percent of the 260 million people living in the United StatesMyopic and xenophobic Americans were and are threatened by what they perceive as waves of foreigners invading the US shores and taking jobs away from hardworking real Americans The fact of the matter is that is simply not the caseIn the 1980s concern about the surge of illegal aliens into the US has led Congress to pass legislation aimed at curtailing illegal immigration The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 allows most illegal aliens who have resided in the US continuously since January 1 1982 to apply for legal status In addition the law prohibits employers from hiring illegal aliens and mandates penalties for violationsMost illegal immigrants come to the United States in search of employment not to go on welfare as many anti-immigration politicians and activists would claim For many years federal officials have attempted to deter illegal immigration by denying undocumented aliens access to the US job market In 1986 Congress passed the employer sanctions provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act Employer sanctions made it a crime for employers to knowingly hire illegal aliens Business owners who fail to comply with the law and knowingly hire illegal immigrants can face thousands of dollars in fines and in the severest cases prison sentences Immigration raises the cost of public services in areas with large numbers of immigrants but the influx of non-American
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