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What is Illegal Immigration?

By Felicia Dye
Updated May 16, 2024
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Immigration refers to a formal process that is required to travel to or stay in a country of which a person is not a citizen. When a person enters or stays in a country by means that violate those processes, the result is illegal immigration. This problem is often dealt with by detaining and deporting those who are illegal immigrants. Many countries also attempt to solve the problem by reducing the number of people who enter their lands illegally.

Generally, there is a process outlined to immigrate to a country, usually involving specific rules, requirements, and restrictions. It also usually involves an application process that allows the destination country to refuse a person the opportunity to enter. When this is the case, approval generally involves the relevant authority issuing documentation to the person whose application has been approved.

Some people are illegal immigrants because they never obtained the proper documentation to enter a country. For example, many people from Zimbabwe illegally entered South Africa by secretly crossing the Limpopo River. Other people become illegal immigrants because they obtain the necessary documentation but continue to stay in a country once that documentation expires.

Many people focus on illegal immigration as a problem that mostly affects developed nations. This is a misconception. Small, poor, and unindustrialized nations are also commonly troubled by illegal immigration.

The problem can be fueled by a number of issues. The lack of economic opportunities in the country of departure is a very common cause. Violence caused by war or political motivations can drive people to immigrate illegally. Difficulties obtaining essential resources such as food or water can also be a cause.

When a country shares a border with another country where people are driven to migrate, illegal immigration can be very hard to control. Various countries have attempted different methods to combat the problem. For example, Egypt has placed soldiers at its border to help curb the situation in Israel. The United States has attempted to place walls and fences along its border with Mexico.

For some countries, illegal immigration is a major issue and can cause numerous problems. For example, the lack of documentation often makes it difficult for illegal immigrants to find sufficient employment. This can be very costly for governments and social programs. Many others argue that illegal immigrants take jobs that should go to citizens. Illegal immigration can also ignite tribal, ethnic, or racial tensions that can result in violence.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By feenster — On Jun 08, 2011

How can two people enter this country, within a year and a half, have a child and post Social Security numbers on the child's birth certificate and now they have different Social Security numbers. Where did they get these Social Security numbers? Were they valid? Why do they each have a different Social Security number now. Isn't this illegal?

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