The Basics of Immigration Law: 7 Things to Know

Immigration is always a hot topic in the US, and it goes back to the nation’s founding. However, right now is more important of a time than ever to talk about it, with the Biden administration moving to speed up deportations in the coming months.

Luckily, there are things you can do about it. Regardless of your circumstances, there are some important things to know about immigration law to protect yourself or your loved ones from harm.

#1. Trump-Era Laws Are Still In Place

Many of President Trump’s executive orders and laws are still in place more than 7 months into the Biden administration’s rule. This includes the controversial “Remain In Mexico” policy, which is formally known as the MPP.

In fact, in late August 2021, the Supreme Court ruled that Biden could not end the MPP and that the Trump-era law that put so many migrants in danger must remain in effect. Biden has recently announced new plans for work programs for incoming migrants but has not released details yet.

Many of Trump’s executive actions were overturned, but as many know, the largest waves of deportations in the last decade or more took place under Biden’s first 100 days in office.

#2. Immigration Law Is Supposed To Have Ideals

US immigration law is intended to be governed by a set of four ideals, including:

  • Unifying families that have been separated or dispersed
  • Bringing foreign nationals who have skills to contribute to the economy
  • Protecting refugees and people at risk of violence or danger
  • Increasing US diversity

Whether or not the US has lived up to those ideals in the legislation that has been passed is up to you to decide. However, this is ideally what the government is set out to do with every immigration bill.

#3. Immigration Policy Is Carried Out Through DHS

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for most operations involving immigration, and it is the newest cabinet-level department in the US federal government.

There are 3 main branches within the department that are responsible for enforcing immigration policies, and they all have controversy surrounding them. These include the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), US Citizens and Immigration Services, and Customs and Border Protection.

ICE is responsible for prosecuting offenders of immigration policy, and they have come under massive scrutiny for some of their practices and allegations in recent years.

Immigration services are ideally supposed to work with incoming migrants who wish to pursue legitimate immigration to the US through asylum or other means. They check into applications and handle the vetting process.

Customs and Border Protection monitor the border and incoming flights into the US to make sure those coming in are eligible to do so.

#4. State Immigration Laws Vary Widely

The laws about immigration and undocumented immigrant rights are extremely different when you cross any state lines. Depending on the state you’re in, that’s either good news or bad news.

The laws are different from state to state, but they all have to follow federal law. Luckily for many, some states have found ways to make things easier. Learn more about immigration state vs federal.

#5. There Are Two Types Of Visas

All visas fall under two umbrellas; immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas. Non-immigrant visas are temporary visas for travel or other purposes. Many undocumented immigrants obtain these visas as means of entering the country before seeking asylum, as these visas are easier to obtain.

Immigrant visas are for those pursuing the right to live and work in the US for the long term. There are only a limited amount of these visas available every year, and they are a lot more difficult to obtain than non-immigrant visas.

#6. You Don’t Have To Provide Law Enforcement Your Immigration Status

That’s right. In the United States, some cities are known as “sanctuary cities”, where law enforcement are not permitted to ask about immigration status. The idea is to prevent undocumented immigrants from becoming easy targets of crimes and to help make it easier to comply with law enforcement.

However, even if you are not in a “sanctuary city”, you still don’t have to provide this information. In the United States, everybody, regardless of citizenship status, is granted to right to remain silent. You also have the right to decline

In the event that you are questioned by law enforcement, it is important that you don’t lie, and that you remain calm. Exercise your right to remain silent and don’t share any information that you don’t want to share. From there, contact an attorney to assist you. Remember, the same goes if you are detained by ICE. You will have the same rights to an attorney and to remain silent.

#7. If You Are Detained During Your Immigration Case…

If you are detained or arrested while your case is currently underway, you should have no problem being released on bond. You always have the right to contact a lawyer if this is being refused, so use this right if you need to.

If you are denied the right the be released after an immigration violation arrest, you should request a bond hearing immediately to speak in front of a judge. Again, contact your lawyer.

Don’t Give Up

US immigration law changes dramatically between states, administrations, and even court decisions. The best thing you can do is keep yourself informed, keep your lawyer’s information on-hand, and reach out for help when you need it! Stay safe, don’t give up hope any time soon, and keep fighting for a better future!