Being a border state, California has a long history in the public debate over immigration law. This research guide aims to provide a basic framework and research strategy for students doing work in this area of law.
The basic regulatory framework of immigration law resides in Congress. Although this power is not among the powers specifically enumerated in the constitution, the federal courts have repeatedly ruled that the power to regulate and control immigration resides with Congress. In exercising this power, administrative agencies have been created to regulate within their statutory authority. These agencies include the Department of Homeland Security, Labor, State, Health and Human Services, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the Social Security Administration.
Although the power to regulate immigration has always existed within the federal government, it was largely not exercised during the first 100 years of the nation's history.