James Sensenbrenner, JD, U.S. Representative (R-WI), in a Dec. 16, 2005 statement on the House of Representatives floor regarding his proposed bill H.R. 4437, argued:

“[U]under current law, illegal entry into the United States makes an alien subject to a Federal criminal misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 6 months in prison. However, unlawful presence itself, such as by overstaying a visa, is not a criminal offense, but only a civil ground of inadmissibility…

Aliens who have disregarded our laws by overstaying their visas to remain in the United States illegally should be just as culpable as aliens who have broken our laws to enter and remain here illegally. In the base bill, the maximum penalty for illegal entry was increased to a year and a day, and the same penalty was set for unlawful presence, to make the enhancements for these offenses consistent with the other penalty enhancements of the bill.”

Dec. 16, 2005