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Immigration pact could carry stipulations

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Any agreement between President Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox on the status of millions of illegal Mexican immigrants in the United States would likely be a complex formula that would not include amnesty, an immigration expert said Wednesday.

Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986  

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Such an agreement between the two leaders would most likely carry a civics requirement as well as "earned" legalization, said Jose Pertierra, a Washington lawyer specializing in immigration.

Pertierra said a 1986 federal law supplies precedent to require completion of a civics component -- such as basic knowledge of English and U.S. history and government -- to grant permanent resident status.

President Reagan granted amnesty to illegal immigrants when he signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 that affected mostly Latino immigrants living in the United States since 1982.

Pertierra said the United States and Mexico may also agree to "earned" legalization.

Such a requirement would condition an immigrant's legalization on the person continuing to work in the United States, and possibly even limit his or her employment to certain sectors.

"There is great concern in the agricultural industries that once a Mexican immigrant is legalized, he or she will stop working on the farms," Pertierra said.

No details on immigration policy changes have been released by Bush, and Pertierra said it is likely to affect only the 3 million Mexicans living illegally in the United States.

"People think there's going to be a general amnesty, and there isn't," Pertierra said. "I fear there's going to be a great deal of disappointment if and when any agreements are made."


• U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
• The White House
• Presidency of the Republic of Mexico

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