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Is Crossing the Border Illegally a Misdemeanor?

We hear daily news about border crossings. The media is rife with debates and discussions about the mass movement of people across the border. There are even discussions about the legality of border crossing. While there are calls for open or looser borders, there are also concerns about who and what comes through the border.

As a result, there is a lot of confusion amongst our populace. You may be wondering if crossing the border is a crime. And if so, what type of crime? Is crossing the border illegally a misdemeanor?

Is Crossing The Border Illegally A Misdemeanor?

We hear a lot about open borders and about the artificiality of borders. There was a time when there was free movement between Mexico and the United States. Crossing the border without appropriate documents has been a crime since 1929.

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Prior to 1929, border crossing and traveling back and forth between Mexico and the United States was quite common. The border patrol which we now see an increased presence of was established in 1924 but had a limited presence. It was at the end of the decade when security began to tighten.

The law passed and was established as Section 1325. This established undocumented entry as being illegal immigration. Illegal immigration became a crime; crossing the border illegally was now a misdemeanor.

But what about illegal immigration history? Who was behind Section 1325?

Coleman Livingston Blease – The Brains Behind The Operation

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Prior to 1929, many white supremacists wanted to give preference to Western European immigrants. Already, European immigration constituted the bulk of immigrants to the United States. They wanted to curtail immigration from Eastern Europe and from Southern Europe.

They wanted to curtail Mexican immigration as well as immigration from Asia. Many Asian immigrants would enter the United States through Mexico.

Coleman Livingston Blease was a Senator who also happened to be a white supremacist. He was influential with the establishing of Section 1325. He was willing to set a compromise. Instead of outright banning immigration from Mexico, there would be restricted immigration. 

For the first timeMexican citizens wishing to enter the United States would have to prove their identity and show a clean criminal record. Entering the country without proper documentation resulted in the individual being deemed an illegal immigrant and thus, committing a misdemeanor.

But there is another question you may be asking:is crossing the border illegally a felony?

The answer is yes, if this is the second time the individual has crossed after being charged with a misdemeanor. 

In essence, such a person is a criminal and would need a criminal defense attorney like anyone else accused of a crime.

Where Are We Today?

Anyone paying attention to the news knows that mass immigration to the United States from the Southern Border is a contentious issue. The answer to “is crossing the border illegally a misdemeanor” is now up for debate, with a few politicians wanting to decriminalize border crossings. 

What is important is that as a country we understand that illegal border crossing is a crime, and can lead to the individual being convicted as a felon if they repeatedly cross.

Check out our other posts to learn more about the history and laws of our country and how they were shaped. It is imperative we understand the history before discussing the possible future of the law.

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