Public Laws Affecting Immigration and Nationality

A U.S. public law is a federal law that has general applicability nationwide. A public law known as the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA) collected many existing provisions and reorganized the structure of immigration law. Since then, Congress has amended the INA many times based on new public laws.

When Congress enacts public laws affecting immigration and nationality, one of a couple of things may happen with the INA. In some cases, Congress amends INA sections or adds new sections to the INA. In other cases, Congress passes immigration laws that do not change the INA.

When Congress enacts a law, it generally does not rewrite the entire body of law, or even entire sections of a law, but instead adds to or changes specific words within a section. These changes are then reflected in the larger body of law. This larger body of law is codified (or, essentially, collected and organized) by subject matter in the U.S. Code.

You’ll find the INA and most other immigration laws in the part of the U.S. Code called Title 8. Immigration law provisions appear in Title 8 as either U.S. Code sections or notes to sections. The Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives is responsible for preparing the U.S. Code.

For more information on public laws, see the Government Publishing Office’s webpage on Public and Private Laws.

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