In a post earlier today I made a distinction, that being in the United States illegally is a civil matter, not a criminal one, and thus inappropriate to label such people criminals.
A comment from linseel shows that I had misunderstood a crucial distinction:
"The distinction is between *being* here illegally -- overstaying a visa, for instance -- and *entering* illegally. Illegal entry is a criminal offense."
And the comment from linseel cited the relevant passage from the U.S. Code, Title 8, Section 1325.
Of course I looked. Here it is:
Sec. 1325. Improper entry by alien
(a) Improper time or place; avoidance of examination or inspection;
misrepresentation and concealment of facts
Any alien who (1) enters or attempts to enter the United States
at any time or place other than as designated by immigration
officers, or (2) eludes examination or inspection by immigration
officers, or (3) attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United
States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the
willful concealment of a material fact, shall, for the first
commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18 or
imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both, and, for a subsequent
commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18, or
imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both.
(b) Improper time or place; civil penalties
Any alien who is apprehended while entering (or attempting to
enter) the United States at a time or place other than as
designated by immigration officers shall be subject to a civil
penalty of -
(1) at least $50 and not more than $250 for each such entry (or
attempted entry); or
(2) twice the amount specified in paragraph (1) in the case of
an alien who has been previously subject to a civil penalty under
Civil penalties under this subsection are in addition to, and not
in lieu of, any criminal or other civil penalties that may be
(c) Marriage fraud
Any individual who knowingly enters into a marriage for the
purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws shall be
imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or fined not more than
$250,000, or both.
(d) Immigration-related entrepreneurship fraud
Any individual who knowingly establishes a commercial enterprise
for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws
shall be imprisoned for not more than 5 years, fined in accordance
with title 18, or both.
I regret not having researched the matter more thoroughly before posting.