Last updated on: 1/9/2008 | Author:

Alan K. Simpson, JD Biography

Former U.S. Senator (R - WY)
Pro to the question "Should the Government Allow a Path to Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants?"

“The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act – IRCA, or the Simpson-Mazzoli bill – is referred to frequently in today’s high-decibel immigration debates – and rarely affectionately. As co-authors of that legislation, we think honest perspective is in order… We quickly realized that if immigration reform was to work and be fair it had to be a ‘three-legged stool.’ If one leg failed, so would the entire bill. ‘Leg one’ was improved security against illegal crossings at the border with Mexico… For the first time in U. S. history, we imposed penalties on employers who knowingly hired undocumented workers. ‘Leg two’ was the H-2A temporary worker program for agricultural workers. ‘Leg three’ was what we called ‘legalization.’ We would allow some, but not all, undocumented aliens then living and working here to regularize their unlawful status and begin the long process to earn temporary residency and, eventually, if they chose to continue, to earn permanent residency and citizenship.

Since illegal immigration continues nearly unabated today, legitimate questions can be raised about the effectiveness of IRCA. Although we do have pride of authorship, we also believe that the shortcomings of the act are not due to design failure but rather to the failure of both Democratic and Republican administrations since 1986 to execute the law properly. From 1981, when our bill was introduced, to 1986, when it became law, we were aided by the expertise of hundreds of policy experts, scholars and advocates. Our comprehensive bill was crafted to curtail illegal immigration, to provide personnel for labor-scarce markets and to give the most worthy of our illegal population a chance to earn legal status. The foundation of IRCA was enforcement and border security, but to work, it required consistent funding… After two decades, the system is still not in place… We believe that our three-legged-stool approach is still relevant and workable if carried out vigorously.”

“Enacting Immigration Reform, Again,” Washington Post, Sep. 15, 2006

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Co-chair, Commission for Continuity in Government, 2002-present
  • Visiting Lecturer, University of Wyoming, 2000-present
  • Member, American Battle Monuments Commission, 2001-2005
  • U.S. Senator (R – WY), 1979-1997
  • Visiting Lecturer, Shorenstein Center of Press and Politics, Harvard University, 1997-2000
  • Chairman, Veterans’ Affairs Committee, 1981 – 1987 & 1995-1997
  • Assistant Republican Leader, the Republican “Whip,” U.S. Senate, under Republican Leader Robert J. “Bob” Dole, 1985-1995
  • Chairman, Immigration and Refugee Policy Subcommittee of Senate Judiciary Committee
  • U.S. Army, 10th Infantry Regiment of the Fifth Infantry Division, and 12th Armoured Infantry Battalion of the Second Armoured Division “Hell on Wheels,” Germany, 1955-1956
  • Co-chair, Americans for Campaign Reform
  • Member, Advisory Board of The Common Good
  • Member, Iraq Study Group
  • Member, Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution
  • Member, Republican Unity Coalition
  • Honorary Member, Log Cabin Republicans
  • Member, Planned Parenthood
  • Member, Alpha Tau Omega fraternity,University of Wyoming, 1950-1954
  • JD, University of Wyoming, 1958
  • BS, Law, University of Wyoming, 1954
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