1 (November 27, 2018)

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   Congressional                                                        _______
SResearch Service
SInforming the leg iative debate si ice 1914

An Overview of U.S. Immigration Laws

Regulating the Admission and Exclusion of

Aliens at the Border

Hillel R. Smith
Legislative Attorney

November 27, 2018

UPDATE: Following the publication of this Sidebar there have been several developments concerning
the Trump Administration's zero tolerance policy and the separation offamilies pending removal
proceedings or any unlawful entry criminal prosecution of a family member A Legal Sidebar and CRS
Report addressing these developments and the legal issues they raise are available here.
In addition, in November 2018, the Trump Administration announced a new policy that would make
aliens who unlawfully enter the United States at the southern border ineligible for asylum. A Legal
Sidebar addressing this policy and the court litigation concerning the legality of that policy is available
here. The original post from June 15, 2018, is below.
Reports of a migrant caravan traveling from Central America to the United States have sparked
considerable attention on the treatment of non-U.S. nationals (aliens) without legal immigration status
who are arrested at or near the U.S.-Mexico border. The caravan comprises aliens primarily from
Honduras, many of whom purportedly came to the United States to escape crime and political instability
in their native countries. In recent months, there has been a marked increase in the number of
apprehensions of aliens at the border seeking to unlawfully enter the country, with roughly three times as
many border apprehensions in May 2018 compared to the same time last year.
In response to this influx of unauthorized border crossings, President Trump and other administration
officials have called for stricter immigration laws and enhanced border security. In addition, the
Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced a zero tolerance policy to criminally prosecute aliens who
unlawfully enter the United States at the southern border; a policy which has reportedly led to the
separation of children from parents awaiting prosecution for unlawful entry. The Administration and its
supporters argue that these policies serve as a tough deterrent that is necessary to curb illegal border
                                                               Congressional Research Service

 CRS Legal Sidebar
 Prepared for Members and
 Committees of Conaress

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