During the 1980s, political instability and violence drove tens of thousands of Central Americans to seek asylum in the United States. The government initially categorized the Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, and Guatemalans coming to the United States who lacked family connections as economic migrants and denied their asylum claims. These denials sparked widespread human rights protests and legal suits, most notably the American Baptist Churches v. Thornburg of 1991 which required reconsideration of asylum petitions. NACARA allowed for the suspension or cancellation of removal of eligible nationals from El Salvador, Guatemala, and the former Soviet-Bloc countries, along with their spouses and children, who entered the United States no later than the fall of 1990.
November 19, 1997
111 Stat. 2160
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled . . . .
Sec. 202. ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS OF CERTAIN NICARAGUANS AND CUBANS.
(b) ALIENS ELIGIBLE FOR ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS.–
(1) IN GENERAL.–The benefits provided by subsection (a) shall apply to any alien who is a national of Nicaragua or Cuba and who has been physically present in the United States for a continuous period, beginning not later than December 1, 1995, and ending not earlier than the date the application for adjustment under such subsection is filed, except an alien shall not be considered to have failed to maintain continuous physical presence by reason of an absence, or absences, from the United States for any periods in the aggregate not exceeding 180 days . . . .
(3) WORK AUTHORIZATION.–The Attorney General may authorize an alien who has applied for adjustment of status under subsection (a) to engage in employment in the United States during the pendency of such application and may provide the alien with an “employment authorized” endorsement or other appropriate document signifying authorization of employment, except that if such application is pending for a period exceeding 180 days, and has not been denied, the Attorney General shall authorize such employment.
(d) ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS FOR SPOUSES AND CHILDREN.–
(1) IN GENERAL.–Notwithstanding section 245(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the status of an alien shall be adjusted by the Attorney General to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence . . . .
“(C) SPECIAL RULE FOR CERTAIN ALIENS GRANTED TEMPORARY PROTECTION FROM DEPORTATION.
. . . . a Salvadoran national who first entered the United States on or before September 19, 1990, and who registered for benefits pursuant to the settlement agreement in American Baptist Churches, et al. v. Thornburgh (ABC) . . . or applied for temporary protected status on or before October 31, 1991; or . . .
a Guatemalan national who first entered the United States on or before October 1, 1990, and who registered for benefits pursuant to such settlement agreement on or before December 31, 1991 . . . .
an alien who entered the United States on or before December 31, 1990, who filed an application for asylum on or before December 31, 1991, and who, at the time of filing such application, was a national of the Soviet Union, Russia, any republic of the former Soviet Union, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Albania, East Germany, Yugoslavia, or any state of the former Yugoslavia.
Approved November 19, 1997.