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

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(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

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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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