Alan C. Nelson, a conservative former commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, has died. He was 63.
Nelson, a San Francisco Bay Area lawyer, died Thursday in Sacramento.
He was most recently in the news in 1994 as co-author of Proposition 187, the controversial measure to cut off government services to illegal immigrants. Nelson said in the successful campaign for the initiative that sponsors wanted the courts to examine its legality, which they have been doing.
Nelson was appointed by former President Ronald Reagan to head the INS in 1982 and served until 1989. During his tenure, Nelson assisted in the enactment of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, cutting illegal immigration in half and granting legal status to about 3 million immigrants.
He also worked to develop the INS as a leader in anti-drug efforts, including drug education and seizure of contraband at the Mexican border.
When Reagan was governor of California, Nelson was assistant director of the California Human Resource Department from 1969 through 1971 and became director of the California Department of Rehabilitation.
After serving in the INS, Nelson was general counsel for the California Employment Development Department in 1990 and 1991.
Born in Oakland, Nelson earned degrees in business education and law from UC Berkeley. He practiced law in San Francisco and Sacramento and from 1964 to 1969 was a deputy district attorney in Alameda County.
He is survived by his wife of 37 years, JoAnn Wallen Nelson; three daughters, Kristy Nelson Leffers, Kathy Turner and Karin Nelson, and one granddaughter.
The family has asked that any memorial donations be made to the Greenhaven Lutheran Church in Sacramento or to the American Diabetes Assn., 10445 Old Placerville Road, Sacramento CA 95827.