Author Information

Congress Research Service

Date of Publication

2021 12:00 AM

Security Theme

Migration

Keywords

Immigration, policy, U.S

Description

U.S. immigration policy is governed largely by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which was first codified in 1952 and has been amended significantly several times since. U.S. immigration policy contains two major aspects. One facilitates migration flows into the United States according to principles of admission that are based upon national interest. These broad principles currently include family reunification, U.S. labor market contribution, origin-country diversity, and humanitarian assistance. The United States has long distinguished permanent from temporary immigration. Permanent immigration occurs through family and employer-sponsored categories, the diversity immigrant visa lottery, and refugee and asylee admissions. Temporary immigration occurs through the admission of foreign nationals for specific purposes and limited periods of time, and encompasses two dozen categories that include foreign tourists, students, temporary workers, and diplomats. The other major aspect of U.S. immigration policy involves restricting entry to and removing persons from the United States who lack authorization to be in the country , are identified as criminal aliens , or whos e presence in the United States is determined to not serve the national interest. Such immigration enforcement is broadly divided between border enforcement—at and between U.S. land, air, and sea ports of entry—and other enforcement tasks including interior enforcement, detention, removal, work site enforcement, and combatting immigration fraud. The dual role of U.S. immigration policy—admissions and enforcement—creates challenges for balancing major policy priorities, such as ensuring national security, facilitating trade and commerce, protecting public safety, and fostering international cooperation.

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Jan 1st, 12:00 AM

Primer on U.S. Immigration Policy

U.S. immigration policy is governed largely by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which was first codified in 1952 and has been amended significantly several times since. U.S. immigration policy contains two major aspects. One facilitates migration flows into the United States according to principles of admission that are based upon national interest. These broad principles currently include family reunification, U.S. labor market contribution, origin-country diversity, and humanitarian assistance. The United States has long distinguished permanent from temporary immigration. Permanent immigration occurs through family and employer-sponsored categories, the diversity immigrant visa lottery, and refugee and asylee admissions. Temporary immigration occurs through the admission of foreign nationals for specific purposes and limited periods of time, and encompasses two dozen categories that include foreign tourists, students, temporary workers, and diplomats. The other major aspect of U.S. immigration policy involves restricting entry to and removing persons from the United States who lack authorization to be in the country , are identified as criminal aliens , or whos e presence in the United States is determined to not serve the national interest. Such immigration enforcement is broadly divided between border enforcement—at and between U.S. land, air, and sea ports of entry—and other enforcement tasks including interior enforcement, detention, removal, work site enforcement, and combatting immigration fraud. The dual role of U.S. immigration policy—admissions and enforcement—creates challenges for balancing major policy priorities, such as ensuring national security, facilitating trade and commerce, protecting public safety, and fostering international cooperation.

 
 

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