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Barbara Bavis, Bibliographic and Research Instruction Librarian, Law Library of Congress
Robert Brammer, Senior Legal Information Specialist, Law Library of Congress
Ashley Matthews, Content Management Intern, Law Library of Congress
Janeen Williams, Legal Reference Librarian, Law Library of Congress
Kellee Bonnell, Legal Reference Librarian, Law Library of Congress
Note: This guide is adapted from "Beginner's Guide" blog posts published on the Law Library's blog, In Custodia Legis, in 2012 and 2013.
Created: June 9, 2018
Last Updated: October 12, 2022
While for years immigration has been a much-debated political topic, several issues have caused a increase in press attention, including recent possible changes in interpretation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and considerations regarding providing a more permanent, legally-protected status External for immigrants from certain countries, among others. Issues like these 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.