Section 212(f) on Suspension of Entry of Aliens Arriving on Non-Compliant Airliners

Introduction

Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is split into two parts. The first part of Section 212(f) codifies the President of the United States' broad authority to suspend the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens if the President determines that such entry would be detrimental to the interests of the United States by presidential proclamation. The second part gives the Attorney General the authority to suspend the entry of aliens arriving on certain airliners that are not in compliance with applicable regulations relating to document fraud.

In this article, we will examine section 212(f) as it relates to the ability of the Executive Branch to suspend the entry of aliens arriving on certain airliners. To read about the presidential proclamation power in section 212(f), please see our comprehensive article [see article].

INA 212(f)

Relevant Statute

The relevant portion of Section 212(f) is as follows:

Whenever the Attorney General finds that a commercial airline has failed to comply with regulations of the Attorney General relating to requirements of airlines for the detection of fraudulent documents used by passengers traveling to the United States (including the training of personnel in such detection), the Attorney General may suspend the entry of some or all aliens transported to the United States by such airline.

Analysis

Under current law, section 212(f) provides the Attorney General with the authority to suspend the entry of aliens arriving on a commercial airline that “has failed to comply with regulations of the Attorney General relating to requirements of airlines for the detection of fraudulent documents used by passengers traveling to the United States.”

The statute works in coordination with statutes that are designed to provide for civil and criminal fines for document fraud. For example, section 273 of the INA provides for fines for airliners that bring any alien into the United States “who does not have a valid passport or unexpired visa.” Section 241(c)(3) of the INA provides that the owner of an aircraft bringing an alien in the United States will have “custodial and financial responsibility for stowaways.”1 Section 274C of the INA provides general penalties for document fraud. Section 212(f) servers as a more drastic option to suspend the entry of aliens arriving on commercial airliners that are in violation of the regulations regarding the prevention of document fraud.

Regulations for screening procedures for carriers which transport passengers to the United States are found in 8 C.F.R. 273.3.

Conclusion

The portion of section 212(f) regarding commercial airliners is little-used. An individual with questions about how to travel to the United States with valid documents may consult with an experienced immigration attorney for guidance. The second part of section 212(f) only applies generally to airliners that fail to meet certain regulatory requirements. Unlike the part of section 212(f) providing for presidential proclamations, it does not relate more broadly to the suspension of entry of aliens or a class of aliens but only for those seeking to use a certain airliner.

It is important to note, however, that using fraudulent documents to seek entry into the United States may carry severe immigration and criminal penalties.

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  1. I. Kurzban, Kurzban's Immigration Law Sourcebook: A Comprehensive Outline and Reference Tool (AILA 14th Ed. 2014) 352

Resources and Materials:

Kurzban, Ira J. Kurzban's Immigration Law Sourcebook: A Comprehensive Outline and Reference Tool. 14th ed. Washington D.C.: ALIA Publications, 2014. 352, Print. Treatises & Primers.