Illegal Entry as Crime, Deporation as Punishment: Immigration Status and the Criminal Process

Gabriel J. Chin
Published in
UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper Series, Paper 274 (2011), 1417-1459

This Article examines the position of noncitizens in the United States. For some noncitizens, particularly those without legal status, courts treat unlawful entry or removability as a quasi-crime, negatively affecting the case in ways similar to the effect of a prior criminal conviction. For other noncitizens, particularly but not exclusively those with legal status, the possibility of deportation is treated as a quasi-punishment, which sometimes mitigates other punishments or affects charging decisions if deportation or the overall package of sanctions would be too harsh. This Article proposes that it is consistent both with fairness to all individuals in the United States and with widely accepted principles of criminal justice to consider—carefully— immigration status in the criminal process.