U.S. Immigration Law

Montana MILE: Montanans for Immigration Law Enforcement

Federal immigration law is part of the U.S. Code. The Code, as Wikipedia explains, is "a compilation and codification of the general and permanent federal law of the United States." (In other words, it doesn't include transitory laws such as the federal budget for a particular fiscal year.) The entire code is available here, at the Cornell University Law School's web site.

Scroll down to the Table of Contents on that linked page. Most of the laws pertaining to immigration are found in Title 8, "Aliens and Nationality," whose list of contents you'll find here (Many of those "Chapters" in Title 8 are empty, their contents having been repealed or transferred to other parts of the Code!)

Immigration law is complicated. But if you read some of the parts to which we direct you, below, you'll see that the complication arises more from convoluted structure than from abstruse language -- typically, a particular section references many other sections, including sections that reside in other titles of the Code.

On the other hand, some parts of the law could hardly be simpler or more straightforward. See, for example, Title 8, Section 1644 (abbreviated "8 USC 1644"), among the links below.

Overall, it seems clear that much of our immigration law was written with special interests -- not the broad national interest -- in mind. And it is a playpen -- a source of endless business -- for immigration lawyers.

Links to sections of the code that we non-lawyers consider germane to the fight against illegal immigration follow.  Instead of strict numerical order, the sections below have been arranged logically.

8 USC 1101. Definitions 
It's 65 PDF pages, but "only" the first 19 are actual definitions, the remainder being footnotes and other supporting information. For example 1101(a)(3) shows that "alien" is a clearly-defined legal term. And 1101(a)(15) tells us, over six pages, all the ways one can be an "alien" without being an "immigrant." Et cetera.

8 USC 1103. Powers and duties of the Secretary, the Under Secretary, and the Attorney General
This section contains gives the Secretary of Homeland Security responsibility for controlling our borders. Interestingly, the section also gives the Attorney General the power, in the event of an "imminent mass influx of aliens arriving off the coast of the United States, or near a land border, [and presenting] urgent circumstances requiring an immediate Federal response," to deputize state and local law enforcement to help out. (Some anachronistic language in this section refers to the "Commissioner" and the "Service," meaning the now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service and its Commissioner.)

8 USC 1324. Bringing in and harboring certain aliens
It's a felony to knowingly smuggle in, transport, or harbor illegal aliens. It's also a felony to, within a one-year period, knowingly hire ten or more illegal aliens. Besides criminal penalties, vehicles used in the violations are subject to forfeiture. All officers "whose duty it is to enforce criminal laws" are authroized to enforce this law.

8 USC 1324a. Unlawful employment of aliens
It is illegal to hire or to continue to employ an "unauthorized alien." And "unauthorized alien" is not synonymous with "illegal alien"! (For example, a foreign student may be here legally yet be forbidden employment by the terms of the student's visa.) Penalties include fines and imprisonment. This section also discusses what documentation on potential employees the employer may use to avoid violations of this law.

8 USC 1324c. Penalties for document fraud
Massive illegal immigration into the U.S. is helped along by massive document fraud, including identity theft. The actual penalties for most of the violations described in this section are given in 18 USC.

8 USC 1325. Improper entry by alien
Don't let anyone try to convince you that illegal immigration "isn't a crime"! Tell them about 8 USC 1325(a).

8 USC 1641. Definitions (of "qualified alien")
The definitions here determine which aliens qualify for public benefits at the federal, state, and local levels. Naturally, legal permanent residents (i.e. "greencard holders") are eligible. So are refugees and those who enter illegally yet are subsequently granted asylum. And, for example, 1641(c)(2) shows that, if you're here illegally but your child has been battered or abused by someone else in your household, you may qualify for public benefits!

8 USC 1611. Aliens who are not qualified aliens ineligible for Federal public benefits
If you're not qualified, you may not receive "any grant, contract, loan, professional license, or commercial license provided by an agency of the United States or by appropriated funds of the United States," nor "any retirement, welfare, health, disability, public or assisted housing, post-secondary education, food assistance, unemployment benefit, or any other similar benefit for which payments or assistance are provided to an individual, household, or family eligibility unit by an agency of the United States or by appropriated funds of the United States." There are exceptions for things like "short-term, non-cash, in-kind emergency disaster relief" and "public health assistance."

8 USC 1621. Aliens who are not qualified aliens or non-immigrants ineligible for State and local public benefits
This section essentially is like section 1611, just above, except it covers public benefits funded by states, counties, and municipalities. Presumably because of the overall federal structure of American government, this section also contains a significant loophole; see 1621(d).

8 USC 1357. Powers of immigration officers and employees
Besides specifying what immigration officers may and mustn't do, this section says explicitly that properly trained state and local law officers may enforce immigration laws, but they aren't required to do so.

8 USC 1373. Communication between government agencies and the Immigration and Naturalization Service
This section pertains to "sanctuary cities," so-called because they typically forbid their police from checking the immigration status of detained individuals, thus making such jurisdictions sanctuaries for illegal aliens. According to this section of the U.S. Code, such forbiddance violates federal law, but there are no penalties, and many cities are doing it.

8 USC 1644. Communication between State and local government agencies and Immigration and Naturalization Service

This seems to do essentially the same thing as 8 USC 1373, above, using fewer words.


Reading some of those sections in detail will likely convince you that current U.S. laws relating to immigration should be revoked in their entirety and that we should start afresh to write drastically simpler laws that have the sole motive of benefiting the American people as a whole.