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National Immigration Project Condemns Biden Administration’s Newest Efforts to Criminalize Migration

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Posted: May. 31, 2024

For Immediate Release
May 31, 2024

Arianna Rosales,

Washington, DC – The Biden administration today announced plans to increase criminal prosecutions for immigration violations at the border, which will lead to a rise in prosecutions under Sections 1325 (unauthorized entry) and 1326 (unauthorized reentry) of Chapter 8 of the U.S. Code.

8 U.S.C. §§ 1325 and 1326 were passed in the late 1920s during the height of the eugenics movement to further racist and white supremacist ideology. While the Trump administration weaponized these laws to new heights — using them to block asylum seekers and separate families — such laws have been used in a discriminatory manner since their enactment and continue to cause harm today under the Biden administration.

“We are alarmed and deeply disappointed to see the Biden administration signal an increase in reliance on policies that are not only racist in their origin, but also in their current impact,” said Sirine Shebaya, Executive Director of the National Immigration Project. “Criminally prosecuting individuals for immigration violations only fuels the mass incarceration of Black and brown people, wastes government resources, and tears families apart. This announcement also comes at a time when the Biden administration continues to narrow asylum and family reunification pathways, increasingly forcing people into dangerous migration channels. We urge the Biden administration to instead live up to the promises it made to advance racial justice by ending these prosecutions altogether and shifting its efforts and resources toward providing humane solutions at the border.” 

Studies of 8 U.S.C. §§ 1325 and 1326 alongside other enforcement programs show that such prosecutions do not deter immigration, but instead add layers of punishment onto populations already facing devastating civil immigration penalties. The Biden administration can, and must, shift away from immigration-related prosecution and take steps to end the systemic injustices these laws have spurred. 

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The National Immigration Project (NIPNLG) is a membership organization of attorneys, advocates, and community members who are driven by the belief that all people should be treated with dignity, live freely, and flourish. We litigate, advocate, educate, and build bridges across movements to ensure that those most impacted by the immigration and criminal systems are uplifted and supported. Learn more at Follow NIPNLG on Facebook, X, and Instagram at @NIPNLG.