Congress has complete authority over immigration. Presidential power does not extend beyond refugee policy. Except for questions regarding aliens' constitutional rights, the courts have generally found the immigration issue as nonjusticiable.
States have limited legislative authority regarding immigration, and 28 U.S.C. § 1251 details the full extent of state jurisdiction.
By controlling the visa process, the federal government can achieve the goals of its immigration policies. There are two types of visas: immigrant visas and nonimmigrant visas. The government primarily issues nonimmigrant visas to tourists and temporary business visitors.
Immigrant visas, on the other hand, permit their holders to stay in the United States permanently and eventually to apply for citizenship. Aliens with immigrant visas can also work in the United States. Congress limits the quantity of immigrant visas, which numbered 675,000 in 1995. Many immigrant visas remain subject to per-country caps.
Upon ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, all children born within the United States received citizenship at birth.
In 1921 Congress passed the Emergency Immigration Act, creating national immigration quotas, which gave way to the Immigration Act of 1924, capping the number of permissible immigrants from each country in a manner proportional to the number already living within the United States.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA), also known as the McCarran-Walter Act, eliminated all race-based quotas, replacing them with purely nationality-based quotas.
When Congress passed the INA, it defined an "alien" as any person lacking citizenship or status as a national of the United States.
Having the proper records and identification typically requires the alien to possess a valid, unexpired passport and either a visa, border crossing identification card, permanent resident card, or a reentry permit.
The need to curtail illegal immigration prompted Congress to enact the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. The IRCA toughened criminal sanctions for employers who hired illegal aliens, denied illegal aliens federally funded welfare benefits, and legitimized some aliens through an amnesty program.
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996 revolutionized the process of alien entry into the United States. The IIRIRA eliminated the term "entry," replacing it with "admission."
On March 1, 2003, the Department of Homeland Security opened, replacing the INS. Within the Department, three different agencies - U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement (CBE), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) - now handle the duties formerly held by the INS.
The Refugee Act of 1980 defines the U.S. laws relating to refugee immigrants. Under the Refugee Act, the term "[[wex:refugee|refugee]]" refers to aliens with a fear of persecution upon returning to their homelands, stemming from their religion, race, nationality, membership in certain social groups, or political opinions. Anyone who delivers a missing American POW or MIA soldier receives refugee status from the United States.
The United States, however, denies refugee status to any alien who actively persecuted individuals of a certain race, political opinion, religion, nationality, or members of a certain social group. As a matter of public policy, the government also typically refuses refugee applicants previously convicted of murderer. [Now, who thought up this egregious limitation?]
To qualify for refugee status under the persecution provision, the refugee applicant must prove actual fear.
The President retains the ultimate decision making authority when determining the number of refugees to allow into the country during a given year.
Deportation proceedings refer to the official removal of an alien from the United States and provide for causes for deportation.
The U.S. government can initiate deportation proceedings against aliens admitted under the INA that commit an aggravated felony within the United States after being admitted. An alien's failure to register a change of address renders the alien deportable, unless the failure resulted from an excusable circumstance or mistake. If the government determines that a particular alien gained entry into the country through the use of a falsified document or otherwise fraudulent means, the government has the grounds to deport.
Other common grounds for deportation include the following: aiding or encouraging another alien to enter the country illegally; engaging in marriage fraud to gain U.S. admission; participating in an activity that threatens the U.S.'s national security; voting unlawfully; and failing to update the government with a residential address every three months, regardless of whether the address has changed.
If the government brings a proceeding for deportation because of fraud or falsification, the government bears the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that alleged falsification or fraud occurred and that the falsification or fraud proved material to the granting of admission to the alien.