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Immigration Control and Reform Act

The Immigration Control and Reform Act of 1986 (ICRA) provided legal status for millions of illegal immigrants and migrant agricultural workers. It also tightened restrictions on employers, enacting new documentation requirements and penalties for employers who hired illegal workers. Because the act included both legalization and documentation components that affected immigrants, employers, and state and local governments, IRCA had far-reaching repercussions for state and local agencies as well as social service agencies and activist groups and resulted in changes to the New York’s migrant farm-worker population. This workforce, which had previously been dominated by African Americans and Haitians, saw a shift in the early 1990s to a majority population of newly legalized Mexicans and other Central Americans. This new demographic had a profound impact in the social, educational, and religious lives of many upstate agricultural communities. To learn more about IRCA, see:

  • The records of the New York State Commissioner of Social Services Subject and Correspondence Files and New York City Offices of Hispanic and Immigrant Affairs reveal the effects of IRCA in New York State
  • The Cornell Migrant Program Records and Cornell Migrant Program Campus Collection address changing demographics of migrant farmworkers and its impact on education and other services.