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Over the past several years, United States immigration law has undergone a significant metamorphosis. Reform measures have been introduced that have substantially altered this country's approach to governing its borders. Foremost among these is the watershed "legalization" or "amnesty" provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 ("IRCA"), the product of one of the longest and most arduous legislative undertakings in recent history. IRCA legalization grants lawful resident status to illegal aliens who have been continuously and illegally present in the United States since January 1, 1982. Although bound up in a larger, more conservative legislative effort to restrict illegal immigration, the provision is designed in significant part to acknowledge a deserving class of undocumented aliens. This humanitarian focus 'marks a radical departure from traditional immigration policy, and makes legalization an innovative and salutary development. Nevertheless, another reform measure introduced during this period, the rule denying immigrant admission to aliens who test positive for the human immunodeficiency virus ("HIV"), threatens to prevent the realization of the legalization provision's humanitarian goals.

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