Immigration Reform

Employer Sanctions and the Question of Discrimination Gao ID: GGD-90-62 March 29, 1990

Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed implementation and enforcement of Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) provisions regarding sanctions against employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers, focusing on: (1) the act's implementation; (2) whether the act caused a widespread pattern of discrimination against U.S. citizens or other eligible workers; and (3) whether the act caused an unnecessary burden on employers.

GAO found that: (1) the law reduced illegal immigration and did not pose an unnecessary burden on employers; (2) federal agencies generally carried out the law; and (3) the law had generally not been used as a vehicle to file frivolous complaints against employers. GAO also found that: (1) it was difficult to determine whether discrimination was a direct result of IRCA; (2) 65 percent of employers reported that they complied with IRCA; (3) persons of Hispanic and Asian origin suffered higher levels of discrimination; (4) because of the law, about 10 percent of employers began one or more discriminatory practices; (5) 78 percent of employers wanted simpler or better employee verification systems, and more employers that reported discriminatory practices desired such changes than those that did not report discrimination; and (6) about 9 percent of employers said that they only hired U.S.-born persons or did not hire persons with temporary work eligibility documents.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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