For immigration law purposes, an “illegal immigrant” is any person who is unlawfully present within U.S. borders. An illegal immigrant generally intends to relocate permanently within the U.S., but in doing so illegally, they may face some serious legal risks. Illegal immigration can happen in a number of ways, including:
- Entering without a visa or valid entry document
- Overstaying valid visa
- Re-entering the country illegally after being removed from the U.S.
- Violating travel provisions while in the U.S. for a temporary visit (for instance, leaving the U.S. for longer than is allowed, then returning)
- Gaining entry into the U.S. using fake or fraudulent immigration documents
- Impersonating a U.S. citizen for residential purposes
Many immigration policies aim at identifying illegal immigrants. For instance, newer programs such the E-Verify system, and various biometric programs use technological advances to identify persons who are in the country unlawfully.
Some legal consequences that illegal immigrants may face can include:
- Removal from the U.S.
- Various criminal consequences (especially for fraudulent immigration applications or evading immigration authorities)
- Temporary bans on re-entry into the U.S. (sometimes anywhere from 3-10 years after deportation)
- Permanent bans on re-entry into the U.S.
In particular, there is much overlap between the U.S. criminal justice system and the immigration system. For instance, persons who are arrested in some jurisdictions may have their fingerprints electronically scanned to determine their immigration status. If it is found that they are an illegal immigrant, they may be subject to immediate removal, especially if they’re found to have committed a serious crime.
On the other hand, a person may sometimes have access to various forms of relief from removal procedures. An example of this is where the person can demonstrate extreme hardship or danger from persecution if forced to relocate to their country of origin.
Illegal immigration is a major concern; illegal immigrants can face some very serious consequences. If you or a loved one has any legal questions or concerns, you may wish to hire a qualified immigration lawyer in your area. Your attorney can perform research to determine how the different immigration laws may be affecting you. Also, if you need to make an appearance in court, an attorney will be able to represent you during the actual hearings.