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Immigration is a sensitive topic on the American political, social, and economic agenda. Globalization as well as the end of the Cold War have meant that people are on the move worldwide as never before. Millions of people from poor countries migrate to richer ones to provide better lives for themselves and their families through legal and illegal channels. Heated debates surround this subject. A dramatic divide persists between proponents, who equate immigration policy with civil rights, and opponents, who cite the burden of illegal immigration on public education and public welfare systems. The author argues that informal institutions involved in migration processes, such as migrant smuggling networks, explain why the current crisis persists. The role of informal institutions is examined by focusing on those who migrate from Kyrgyzstan to the United States seeking low-wage labor. The author generalizes how formal and informal institutions interact in the processes of migration and how informal institutions decisively influence immigration-related policies in the United States.