Presidential candidate, Julian Castro, just released a comprehensive immigration reform plan which would repeal the provision of US law that makes “illegal entry” into the US a federal crime. Under Castro’s plan, an immigrant who crossed the border would be detained briefly by Border Patrol and, if no red flags are raised, released pending an immigration hearing. Instead of a crime, being in the US without legal status would be considered a civil offense for which the penalty is deportation. Thus, if an immigrant does not qualify for asylum or another form of legal status, they would still be deported. See Dara Lind, Julián Castro wants to radically restrict immigration enforcement, Vox (Apr 2, 2019) https://www.vox.com/2019/4/2/18291584/2020-immigration-democrats-policy-castro-abolish-ice
“Illegal entry” into the US has been a crime since 1929 under Chapter 8, Section 1325 of the US Code, but only in the last 20 or so years has this provision been routinely enforced. To learn more about US law and policy regarding immigration and border control, take a look at these resources:
U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Laws and Issues: A Documentary History (Michael C LeMay & Elliott Robert Barkan, eds., 1999)
This book compiles 100s of primary documents including court cases and opinion pieces that illuminate the controversies surrounding immigration and nationalization policies throughout US history. The book includes explanatory introductions to assist the reader in understanding the significance of each document.
Margaret S. Orchowski, The Law that Changed the Face of America : the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (2015)
Margaret Orchowski, a journalist and immigration expert, examines how immigration laws have changed over the course of US history into the 21st century in light of globalization, changes in technology, terrorism, the recession and changing attitudes and expectations among younger generations. She also explores the roles that different branches of government and competing interests play in influencing immigration policy.
Ira J. Kurzban et al., Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook: A Comprehensive Outline and Reference Tool (16th ed. 2018)
Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook is intended to be a quick reference tool for practitioners and students that includes federal and administrative cases, regulations, statutes, and agency rulings.
Lucy E. Salyer, Laws Harsh as Tigers: Chinese Immigrants and the Shaping of Modern Immigration Law (1995)
This book examines the debates surrounding judicial enforcement of the Chinese exclusion laws as well as administrative power and reform of the Bureau of Immigration during a period of heightened nativism in the early 20th century.
Kevin R Johnson & Bernard Trujillo, Immigration Law and the US-Mexico Border: Sí Se Puede (2011)
Johnson and Trujillo review the history of Mexico – US migration patterns, the discrimination against US citizens of Mexican ancestry and policy debates over “illegal” aliens. Their discussion encompasses US immigration law and policy, the migration of labor, state and local regulation, and the contributions of Mexican immigrants to the US economy.
David Brotherton & Philip Kretsedemas, Immigration Policy in the Age of Punishment: Detention, Deportation, and Border Control (2017)
Immigration Policy in the Age of Punishment is an interdisciplinary exploration of immigration policies in America, Canada, and Europe during the Obama and Trump eras, within the context of what the authors refer to as a decades-long “age of punishment.” This book looks at deportations and border enforcement, national policy and jurisprudence, and the prison-to-deportation pipeline in its discussions of immigration laws and their enforcement.
Constructing Immigrant “Illegality”: Critiques, Experiences, and Responses (Cecilia Menjívar & Daniel Kanstroom, eds. 2014)
Constructing Immigrant “Illegality” is a collection of essays from the fields of anthropology, law, political science, religious studies, and sociology that explore the concept of immigrant “illegality,” how immigration law shapes immigrant illegality and how “illegality” takes effect in the lives of immigrants. The essays also examine power structures associated with the concept of illegality.
Immigration Stories (David A. Martin & Peter H. Schuck, eds. 2005)
This book tells the stories of 13 canonical immigration cases to illustrate how immigration law is made.