Blake Sharpton

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Emma Lazarus's poem was engraved on a plaque and affixed to the base of the Statue of Liberty in 1903. Ms. Lazarus's words may have reflected the sentiment of the country in 1903, but the United States no longer throws its doors open to any and every person hoping for a better life. Rather, potential immigrants are faced with a labyrinth of legal hurdles in order to gain entry into the United States.

Under current U.S. immigration law, every person in the world is either a United States "national" or an "alien." With few exceptions, the term national today basically means citizen. Within the class of aliens, or "noncitizens," the most fundamental distinction drawn by the immigration laws is between immigrants and nonimmigrants. The Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA") defines nonimmigrants as those who are temporary entrants, such as tourists and students. Every other type of potential entrant is referred to as an "immigrant." The term immigrant includes noncitizens who have been lawfully admitted as residents ("LPRs")8 and those who have not ("undocumented immigrants"). LPRs may reside in the United States permanently and may work.