Alan C. Nelson
Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization, February 22, 1982 to June 16, 1989
Born October 18, 1933, in Oakland, California, Nelson earned his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1958. His career included private law practice until 1964, and service as Deputy District Attorney in Alameda County from 1964 to 1969. In that year he became the Assistant Director of the California Department of Human Resources Development, and in 1972 became Director of California's Department of Rehabilitation. During these years Nelson also taught law at the McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific. He left State government in 1975 to work as an attorney for Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company in San Francisco, where he remained until nominated as INS Commissioner.
During Nelson's term as INS Commissioner, he promoted then implemented the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986, which included the legalization of three million immigrants. Nelson also worked to prevent mass illegal immigration from Central America and the Caribbean, developed INS as a leader in anti-drug efforts, and initiated significant management improvements.
After leaving INS in 1989, Nelson returned to California and served as General Counsel to the State Employment Development Department for a time before returning to private practice in Sacramento, where he remained active in immigration policy issues. Alan Nelson died in California on January 30, 1997.