Immigration amnesty policies pardon illegal aliens for violating immigration laws, according to Legal Information Institute. Under these laws, the U.S. government officially excuses actions normally viewed as grounds for legal prosecution or deportation, such as falsifying identification documents to secure employment. Amnesty also allows immigrants to obtain legal US residency.
Under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, Congress enacted the first major amnesty legislation by granting a conditional residency status to illegal, nonconvicted aliens who had immigrated to the United States before 1982, the Library of Congress states. The legislation also punished employers who unlawfully hired illegal immigrants and established a five-year period in which the newly recognized legal residents were ineligible for federal assistance programs, such as Medicaid and food stamps.