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The intensifying convergence of U.S. criminal law and immigration law poses fundamental structural problems. This convergence--which manifests in the criminal prosecution of immigration law violators, in deportation of criminal law violators, and in a growing immigration enforcement and detention apparatus--distorts criminal law incentives and drains enforcement resources, misguides immigration regulation, and undermines efforts to implement alternative immigration regulatory frameworks. This article offers an account, informed by social psychological and literary theory, of why this convergence persists notwithstanding these problems, as well as how the convergence (and inherently associated problems) might be undone. The U.S. criminal-immigration convergence holds powerful sway, despite the fact that it does much harm and relatively little good, because it serves to relieve pervasive cognitive dissonance in the United States regarding immigration, specifically in relation to economic and racial concerns. Drawing on previously unexamined Immigration and Customs Enforcement memoranda, legislative history, and empirical studies of criminal-immigration enforcement, this article critically engages the primary justifications of the convergence in immigration scholarship and policy discourse. Finally, it assesses two approaches to undoing the convergence.

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49 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 105-178 (2012)