The gatekeeper of the borders of the United States, federal immigration law determines who may enter the country, how long they may stay, their status, their rights and duties while in the United States, and how they may become resident aliens or American citizens.
Under the U.S. Constiution, the U.S. Congress has complete authority over immigration. The courts have generally found issues regarding immigration to be nonjusticiable, and presidential power extends only to refugee policy. States have limited authority regarding immigration.
Primarily because of the need for labor and the spacious
In 1921, Congress passed the
The need to curtail illegal immigration motivated Congress to enact the
Every person in the United States, including American citizens, has an immigration status that falls under one of these major categories:
•U.S. citizens–persons born within the United States or born abroad to U.S. citizens, or who have naturalized
•lawful permanent residents–green card holders eligible to reside in the United States permanently and apply for naturalization
•asylees and refugees–persons granted asylum in the United States and persons who enter as refugees and who have not yet been granted permanent residence
•nonimmigrants–persons who enter the United States temporarily for specific purposes, such as tourism, study, short-term work, or business
•out of status–persons who enter the United States lawfully on nonimmigrant visas that have either expired or had their terms violated
•undocumented aliens–persons who enter the country without inspection–usually from Canada or Mexico–or with a fraudulent passport
The Patriot Act broadened the definition of
In another reaction to the 2001 attacks, Congress enacted the
Americans have been deeply divided over immigration policy, and no consensus has emerged, although most people agree that policies had to be strengthened after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Opponents of these measures argue that these steps curtail civil liberties, particularly those of Muslims; supporters counter that the measures are important and significant tools in the war on global terrorism. Among other steps authorized in the name of national security, the government required special registration of certain
Although early twenty-first century immigration laws are generally neutral on their face and do not discriminate on the basis of race, they have racially disparate effects. For example, ceilings on immigrant admissions from a single country in any year apply to all countries but have a disproportionate impact on prospective immigrants from
Jasper, Margaret C. The Law of Immigration. 3d ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Almanac that explores immigration law, the rights and obligations of aliens, and the process of citizenship through naturalization. A useful reference for the layperson that contains sample documents and an extensive glossary. Johnson, Kevin R., and Bernard Trujillo. “Immigration Reform, National Security After September 11, and the Future of North American Integration.” Minnesota Law Review 91, no. 5 (2007): 1369-1407. Scholarly article with numerous references outlining security problems and possible solutions in the post-9/11 era. Powell, John. Immigration. New York: Facts On File, 2007. Contains essential information for researching the issue of immigration, including chronology, glossary of terms, biographical data, and an extensive and fully annotated bibliography including periodicals and Web documents, microforms, CDs, and film resources. Weissbrodt, David, and Laura Danielson. Immigration Law and Procedure in a Nutshell. St. Paul, Minn.: Thomson/West, 2005. Excellent introduction to immigration law containing summaries and references to court cases, the Constitution, and pertinent statutes.
Bureau of Immigration, U.S.
Homeland Security, Department of
Immigration Act of 1882
Immigration Act of 1917
Immigration Act of 1921
Immigration Act of 1924
Immigration Act of 1990
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965
McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950
9/11 and U.S. immigration policy
Patriot Act of 2001
Supreme Court, U.S.