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Copyright (c) 2006 Texas Hispanic Journal of Law & Policy
Texas Hispanic Journal of Law & Policy

Article: An Overview of U.S. Immigration Law and Policy Since 9/11

Spring, 2006

12 Tex. Hisp. J.L. & Pol'y 9




I. Introduction

Historically, U.S. immigration law has been closely linked to political and economic policies and trends. Early immigration laws targeted anarchists, communists, and other activists. 1 Xenophobic laws excluded Chinese and other Asians from the U.S. for many years. 2 During the McCarthy era in the 1950s, legislation was passed to expel Communists and other so-called subversives from the country. 3 Current immigration law and policy is no different. Since 1996, harsh immigration laws have expanded detention and deportation of non-citizens, including long-time permanent residents, for criminal offenses that would not have resulted in deportation at the time they were committed. The laws are administered without regard to the impact of deportation on the deportees' families or on the deportees themselves. This situation has been exacerbated since 9/11, as the government's focus on the war against terrorism has blurred the lines between immigration and terrorism. Thus, legislation since 9/11, such as the controversial USA PATRIOT Act, has continued to erode the rights of immigrants. Finally, in May 2005 the U.S. Congress enacted the Real I.D. Act, which under the guise of the war against terrorism, has further restricted immigrants' access to judicial review and has heightened the standards for asylum applicants.

At the same time that the government has implemented an increasingly criminal and enforcement agenda, growing numbers of migrants enter the U.S. without documentation each year. Strict immigration enforcement policies have forced immigrants to take much greater risks to arrive in the U.S. and ...
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