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Out of a genuine desire to help illegal aliens who have been living long-term in the United States, and also out of a desire to ease the mess of paperwork the INS has to contend with, periodic amnesties are voted by Congress, allowing illegal aliens under certain circumstances to turn themselves in to the INS and become legal permanent residents. Recent amnesty programs have used a lottery system, based on random choice of applications sent in to a central INS processing center, in turn allocated to nationals of certain countries. Sooner or later, most illegal aliens will be eligible for an amnesty program, though the wait might be long. No one fully understands the law, and Congress has never had a clear idea about where it wants to go with immigration policy. The only true certainty is that people will continue to come to the United States–either legally or illegally–in record numbers.

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