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Immigration & Asylum Law: A Beginner's Guide

This guide provides an overview of primary and secondary resources related to immigration and asylum law.

Introduction

View of Ellis Island, N.Y., looking across water toward immigration station. 1913. George Grantham Bain Collection. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

While for years immigration has been a much-debated political topic, several issues have caused a recent increase in press attention, including: (1) the recent expansion of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) priorities and its impact on non-citizen children at American borders; (2) the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program; and (3) the administration's recent efforts to deny federal funding to sanctuary cities. These same issues have made immigration a “hot” topic for legal researchers as well. The study of immigration law and policy can be very complicated, however, and can derail researchers not familiar with the executive agencies involved or the vocabulary they may use.

In the recent public debate regarding immigration reform, a group of class-action litigants successfully called for a change to our current method for granting asylum to those who fear returning to their country of origin due to “persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” The asylum process is often described as “complex” and “complicated,” and as being full of pitfalls for asylum seekers and those trying to assist them.

This guide to immigration and asylum law research aims to help you get a good footing in the area before moving on to more advanced topics.