It probably seems like all we cover lately is endless information on immigration statutes, and that’s with good reason: 1) we’re an immigration law firm, and that’s our area of expertise, and 2) this information is topical, as we’ve seen a 300% increase in immigration-related arrests in the last month, much in thanks to an executive order from our governor.
And, because we all know that ignorance of the law is not an acceptable defense, let’s take another look at immigration statutes to best understand where the issues lie and how to avoid them. We’ve covered alien smuggling for a few weeks, but let’s delve into another statute: Title 8, Section 1325 of the U.S. Code (U.S.C.): improper entry by an alien.
So, what exactly is improper entry by an alien, and how can you avoid violating this statute?
To better understand what improper entry is, you can click the link above that will take you to the legal codes, which are chockfull of not-so-fun terminology, but for the sake of summation and to save you some sanity, improper is just a nice way of saying illegal. So improper entry equates to unlawful entry, which doesn’t just mean stepping foot across an unguarded border.
Let’s look at some examples of this very broad statute. Improper entry can include:
- Evading inspection by U.S. immigration officials
Evading inspection doesn’t only mean extreme forms of avoidance, such as stowing away on a cargo vessel or digging an entry tunnel beneath the border. Avoiding a check-point is a sure-fire way to violate this statute.
- Willfully giving false or misleading information to gain entry into the U.S.
We all know that lying to immigration or falsifying government documents is illegal, but what else?
If romantic comedies and perennial immigration tropes have taught us anything, it’s that you can marry a U.S. citizen and gain legal entry into the U.S… but only if it’s an authentic marriage. Anything less than true is marriage fraud and improper entry. Take a look at our Adjustment of Status Through Marriage blog to better understand the legal requirements to validate an immigrant marriage.
Another way you can be found guilty under this statute is by letting your visa lapse without checking in or filing the applicable paperwork to extend your stay. They had legal entry at some point, but they allowed their papers to expire.
This form of violation also pertains to helping someone else falsify their documents. Take, for instance, a business owner who has a friend whose work visa is soon to expire. So, like a good friend, the business owner fibs and says their friend works for them and files to extend the work visa. That may make you a good friend, but it also makes you a criminal in the eyes of the U.S. government.
- Entering or attempting to enter the U.S. at any location other than one designated by U.S. immigration officers
This is the easy one, the one we all know about. Don’t cross the border unless it’s at a designated inspection location.
We’ll keep this section short and sweet. Being caught committing any of these offenses or violating this statute in any way affects not only your wallet and freedom but your future, as well. These violations likely make a person inadmissible, thus jeopardizing any future legal entry into the U.S., even if you’ve been on your best behavior since the violation.
These are only a few of the ways that the statute of improper entry can affect you and your loved ones, and we’ve painted those with some fairly broad strokes. If you have questions or want more information on this statute, please reach out to one of our trusted immigration attorneys at Peek & Toland. We’re more than happy to help you avoid legal trouble and secure a pathway to citizenship.