US Customs and Border Protection

Us Customs Service

Us Customs and Immigration

Illegal immigration has been a very important issue in the United States. An illegal immigrant is defined as a non-citizen of the United States who has made entry into the country without government permission which violates the United States Nationality Law, or someone who has stayed beyond the expiry date of a visa. There are several millions of illegal immigrants living in the United States. In 2008, the Center of Immigration Studies estimated that as of 2008, roughly 11 million illegal immigrants are living in the United States. Some estimates range as much as 20 million. Ina report by Pew Hispanic Center in 2005, 56% of illegal immigrants were from Mexico; 22% were from other countries in Latin America, mostly from Central America, 13% from Asia, 6% from Canada and Europe, and 3% from Africa and the remainder of the world.

There are several notable agencies that address illegal immigration such as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the body that has the responsibility of the apprehension of individuals who attempt illegal entry to the United States. It is one of the Department of Homeland Security’s principal and most intricate constituents. Its principal mission is keeping terrorists and their weaponries from entering the United States. It is also responsible for providing security and facility of trade and travel. At the same time, it enforces hundreds of U.S. regulations, including laws pertaining to immigration and drugs. The U.S. Border Patrol is its mobile law enforcement division. It is responsible for the patrol of nearly 60,000 miles of Canadian and Mexican international land borders and more than 2,000 miles of coastal waters that surround the Florida Peninsula and Puerto Rico. The foremost priority of US border patrol is to prevent terrorist and their weapons, including those that can be used for mass destruction, from entering US territory. Even after many changes it has undergone for the last decades, its primary mission have remained unchanged – to prevent and detect illegal aliens from entering the United States. Working with other law enforcement officers, the Border Patrol aids in the maintenance and facilitation of the flow of legal immigration and good and ensures the prevention of illegal trafficking of contraband and people. Agents work nonstop on assignments, in all kinds of weather conditions and terrain. They also work in several isolated areas throughout the country.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the agency which supervises legitimate immigration to the United States. It secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants through the provision of correct and valuable information to its customers, the grant of immigration and citizenship benefits, the promotion of an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and the assurance of the integrity of the immigration system. USCIS is composed by 18,000 government employees and contractors working at 250 offices all over the globe. Its strategic goals include the strengthening of the security and integrity of the immigration system; the support of the integration and participation of immigrants in American civic culture; the promotion of sound and flexible immigration programs and policies; the strengthening of the infrastructure that supports USCIS mission; and the operation of the agency as a high-performance organization promoting a talented workforce and a vibrant work culture.

Another important agency is the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). It is the major investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the second biggest investigative agency in the federal government. It was established in 2003 through a merger of the investigative and interior enforcement components of the U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Now, ICE is employing more than 20,000 people in offices in all fifty states and 47 countries worldwide. Its main mission is the promotion of homeland security and public safety through civil and criminal enforcement of federal laws that govern border control, trade, customs and immigration. It possesses an annual budget of more than $5.7 million dollars which is devoted primarily to its two major operating constituents – Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). In June 2010, ICE released its strategic plan for fiscal years 2010-2014. This plan details how ICE will most successfully perform its responsibilities for civil immigration enforcement and criminal investigation over the subsequent five years. Furthermore, ICE is doing initiatives to update and improve its management structure to provide the agency a stronger sense of purpose and identity. The plan enumerates four vital priorities for the future of the agency – the prevention of terrorism and enhancement of security; the protection of borders against illegal trade, finance and travel; the protection of borders through smart and tough interior immigration enforcement; and the construction of an effective and efficient agency.

Several moves have been made to address illegal immigration such as the DREAM Act and President’s Obama’s recent order on the protection of illegal immigrants from deportation.

The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or the DREAM Act was introduced into Congress on March 26, 2009,. Its goal is to provide undocumented students an opportunity to become permanent residents of the United States. The bill offers students with a path to citizenship regardless of the status that are passed on to them by their parents who may be undocumented or have entered the U.S. illegally. One of the previous versions of the bill states that if a student arrived in the U.S. five years before the legislature’s passage and was under the age of 16 when they came to the U.S., they would be qualified for a 6-year conditional residency status after the completion of an associates degree or two years of military service. If the person has demonstrated good moral character at the conclusion of the 6-year period, he or she could then make an application for U.S. citizenship.

On June 15, 2012, US President Barrack Obama made an important order that will truly have significant repercussions on illegal immigration. According to immigration group estimates, there are about 2 million illegal immigrants who have arrived in the United States when they were children and who stay in the country. Most of these illegal immigrants are Hispanic. There are currently 51 million Hispanics living in the country out of the total US population of 309 million. The president made a move to protect hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, most of them Hispanic, from deportation proceedings for at least a couple of years. These immigrants will also be able to get work permits.

Under Obama’s plan, qualified persons would have the right to work and live in the United States for a couple of years and have the eligibility for extensions. Illegal immigrants up to 30 years of age, who arrived in the US when they were children and do not pose a risk of the nation’s security, would be allowed to stay and apply for work permits. To avoid being deported, a person must have come to the US under the age of 16 and should have lived in the country for a minimum of five years. They must be studying in school or are high school graduates or discharged honorably from the US military. They should not be convicted of any felony or major offenses.

President Obama made this announcement on the 30th anniversary of a Supreme Court decision which declared that children of illegal immigrant parents would be entitled to US public education. Obama’s administration has been much criticized by some Hispanic groups for the deportation of about 400,000 illegal immigrants a year. Now, Obama’s revolutionary announcement is viewed as a sharp contrast to Republican Mitt Romney, his opponent in election, whose stance on illegal immigration is still harsh. The president’s stop-gap policy however did not grant citizenship or amnesty to illegal immigrants’ children. But Obama said to the reporters at the White House that such persons are Americans in their hearts and minds, in every single way except on paper.

At first, President Obama has been reluctant to enforce such an order. Even the Republicans in Congress have been blocking immigration reform bills. However, Obama saw his action as “the right thing to do.” His order came a week before his schedule to make a speech in an assembly of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in Florida. It was deemed as a victory for Hispanic groups that have long clamored for Obama’s use of his executive powers. It was definitely a reversal by the administration.

Democrats have praised Obama’s order. Even the Republicans who attacked the move agreed that Congress should finally decide the fate of the children of illegal immigrants. Many Republicans call for more enforcements of the law before taking into consideration any loosening of immigration laws for the roughly 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States.

Obama’s move on illegal immigration has been the second time in a few months that he has made an effort to reach out to a key Democratic voting constituency. The last time he did that was when he made an announcement that he supports the legalization of gay marriage, which won him a lot of praise and campaign donations from the LGBT community. His appeal to Hispanics was made at a period when his popularity has submerged amid increasing worries of economic weakening and an increasingly deepening financial crisis in Europe which is threatening American jobs further.