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You Don't Say
John E. McIntyre writes about language, usage, journalism & arbitrarily chosen subjects.
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It turns out that I was wrong

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

STATUTE

    (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

      this subsection.

    Civil penalties under this subsection are in addition to, and not

    in lieu of, any criminal or other civil penalties that may be

    imposed.

    (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. 



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