What are the Basics of U.S. Immigration Law?

Immigration law is primarily concerned with controlling the entry of aliens, as well as the criteria and means for their selection and the procedure for their exclusion from the United States. It deals primarily with how citizenship is gained, be it by birth in the United States or under certain circumstances such as by birth outside the United States to a parent who is a U.S. citizen.

In 2002 the Department of Homeland Security was created. The Department of Homeland Security manages most of the immigration enforcement functions and has directed these responsibilities to the following agencies:

  1. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – also known as ICE. ICE is in delegated the task of investigating, detaining, and removal;
  2. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services – also know as USCIS. USCIS is delegated the task of immigration-related benefits and services such as applications for residence, work authorization, and naturalization; and
  3. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection – also know as CBP. The CBP is delegated the task of border security such as inspection of arriving passengers.

The main immigration statute is called the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 – also known as the INA. The INA is frequently amended and can be found in Title 8 of the United States Code. Although the INA has been amended frequently, it is still the basic law dealing with United States immigration and nationality.

At the time the INA bill was presented, it encountered opposition in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Ultimately, the INA bill was approved by substantial majorities in both houses. President Truman vetoed the INA bill when it reached desk. President Truman criticized the bill in part because the severity of the grounds prescribed for exclusion, deportation, and denaturalization. The Congress overrode the President Truman’s veto, and the INA bill was enacted on June 27, 1952.

The INA is divided into four sections:

  1. deals with definitions and with the authority of enforcement agencies;
  2. deals with immigration;
  3. deals with nationality and naturalization; and
  4. deals with amendments, repeals, and savings clauses.

To learn more about the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 and how it impacts your immigration situation, contact Kristy Qiu, Esq. a Fort Lauderdale Immigration Lawyer, at 954-282-8296.