What is Illegal Entry?

Felicia Dye

Some people are illegal immigrants because they were permitted into a foreign country but did not leave when they were supposed to. Other people are illegal immigrants because they entered a country without permission. This is known as illegal entry, and it is a major problem in many nations. There are numerous ways for people to illegally immigrate, which include hiding in vehicles that cross borders legally, using tunnels that run beneath a border, or simply walking into a country at an unsupervised point. If caught, these illegal immigrants can face several types of consequences.

Smugglers use a variety of techniques to smuggle immigrants over the border, including hiding them in trucks.
Smugglers use a variety of techniques to smuggle immigrants over the border, including hiding them in trucks.

Illegal entry commonly occurs when a country shares borders with one or more countries where the standard of living is much lower. People from the poor and less developed countries will commonly enter the richer country illegally in search of employment or a better life. In some cases, illegal entry is not limited to people from neighboring countries. Some individuals develop elaborate schemes and travel vast distances to enter a particular country.

Soldiers may patrol borders by foot and ground vehicles.
Soldiers may patrol borders by foot and ground vehicles.

Many people realize that illegal entry is a problem without realizing that, in many countries, it is also a crime. In other countries, it may only be considered an administrative offense. There are a number of consequences that are commonly imposed on individuals who illegally immigrate. Some are incarcerated or held for extended periods in detention centers. They may be charged fines. It is also likely that they will be barred from legally immigrating to the country where they are caught for several years or forever.

In some cases, however, people enter countries illegally, but they are not forced to leave. Many countries have laws that prohibit forcing people to return to their home nation if certain circumstances exist. For example, if an illegal immigrant faces the threat of persecution, even though he enters the U.K. illegally, there are significant chances that he will be allowed to stay.

Governments around the globe try to address illegal entry in numerous ways. These include erecting walls and fences and having soldiers patrol borders by air, foot, and ground vehicles. Despite all efforts, the problem is often difficult to control. This is especially true for affected countries that have extensive borders.

There are often debates about the effects of illegal entry. Many portray it as a victimless offense. Others, however, note that illegal immigrants have numerous effects on the societies that they intrude upon, which include taking jobs that should belong to citizens, overcrowding cities, and increasing tax burdens by exploiting social service programs.

People who illegally immigrate may face incarceration.
People who illegally immigrate may face incarceration.

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Discussion Comments


@AnswerMan- I respect your position on the illegal immigration issue, but I'm going to have to disagree with it. Is illegal immigration a crime? Of course it is. If we continue to allow illegal entry into the United States, then what's the point of even maintaining an unenforceable border with Mexico? I'd really like to improve my own life and live in Tahiti, but I'm sure they have rules and regulations about illegal entry there, too.

I feel sorry for people who have to live in harsh economic conditions in their home countries, but that's a problem that should be addressed by those countries' leaders, not the United States. Instead of risking their lives through illegal immigration, Mexicans and other Central Americans should stay home and help find solutions to their countries' problems, I think.


My state tried to pass a law that would have made it illegal for state residents to transport or house or provide food to known illegal immigrants. Under that law, any state resident who failed to report the presence of illegal immigrants to authorities would also face criminal prosecution. The same group of lawmakers wanted to force school children to reveal their parents' countries of origin to their teachers. The teachers weren't technically obligated to report possible illegal entry into the United States, but the information would still exist on school records.

Fortunately, the state's Supreme Court ruled most of the law unconstitutional. I'm not a proponent of illegal immigration, but I can understand why some people would be tempted to make illegal entry into this country. I think there should be an amnesty program for undocumented workers who have become gainfully employed in the United States.

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