In 1986, a law was put into effect which granted lawful permanent residence to certain individuals who had been living unlawfully in the United States prior to 1982 by applying for amnesty. Such a process requires that the U.S. government forgive illegal aliens for immigrating illegally and driving and/or working with false documents. Before this law was enacted, amnesty was determined on a case to case basis.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) interpreted the new law in a manner that was challenged in Federal Court, in “late amnesty” lawsuits such as Catholic Social Services (CSS) and League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) in which the plaintiffs succeeded. As a result of the amnesty law and the CSS and LULAC lawsuits, millions of illegal residents were able to obtain legal permanent residence and apply thereafter for U.S. citizenship.