Enforcement

The enforcement of immigration laws is a complex and hotly-debated topic. Learn more about the costs of immigration enforcement and the ways in which the U.S. can enforce our immigration laws humanely and in a manner that ensures due process.

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February 10, 2011
Since 1986, controlling illegal immigration by regulating who is entitled to work in the United States has been a key component of U.S. immigration policy. The ritual of showing proof of one’s...
February 9, 2011
Before the onset of the Great Recession, immigrant labor was cited as a boom to the U.S. economy. In towns and cities across the country, immigrant labor—documented or otherwise—filled positions in...
January 25, 2011
For many years, large-scale worksite raids constituted a major element of federal immigration enforcement. While the large-scale and well-publicized worksite raids have tapered, immigration...
January 5, 2011
Immigration enforcement is an extremely important national priority. Effective control of our nation’s borders is essential to our national security. The regulation and control of those who enter...
December 1, 2010
On June 30, 2010, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), John Morton, issued a memo to the agency that reflected the Obama administration’s oft repeated intent...
November 23, 2010
In 2009, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained approximately 380,000 people...
November 9, 2010
As part of its strategy to gain support for comprehensive immigration reform, the administration has...
August 20, 2010
Arizona politicians who support the state’s sweeping anti-immigrant law (SB 1070) are not particularly fond of...
July 27, 2010
Arizona and the federal government await a decision from a Phoenix district judge on whether enforcement of SB 1070 will move forward on July 29th, or whether all or some parts of the law will be...
The class-action lawsuit complaint alleges that Tucson Sector Border Patrol holds men, women, and children in freezing, overcrowded, and filthy cells for days at a time in violation of the U.S. Constitution and CBP’s own policies.
In March 2015, the American Immigration Council, in collaboration with the Law Office of Stacy Tolchin, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, filed a class action lawsuit against CBP over its nationwide pattern and practice of failing to timely respond to requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The plaintiffs included both immigration attorneys and individuals, all of whom had FOIA requests pending for over 20 business days.
On October 21, 2014, the American Immigration Council, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, with co-counsel, the National Immigration Law Center and Jenner & Block LLP, filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act to compel the release of government documents regarding the use of the expedited removal process against families with children, including those detained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in Artesia, New Mexico. The suit was filed in the federal district court for the Southern District of New York.
On August 22, 2014, the American Immigration Council, in collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, the National Immigration Law Center, Van Der Hout Brigagliano & Nightingale LLP, and Jenner & Block, filed this lawsuit in the federal district court for the District of Columbia. The case was a systemic challenge to the policies denying a fair deportation process to mothers and children detained in the Artesia Family Residential Center who had fled extreme violence, death threats, rape, and persecution in Central America and come to the United States seeking safety.
January 21, 2014
The American Immigration Council and National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) are seeking to preserve federal court review of damages actions brought by noncitizens for abuse of authority by immigration agents.
January 3, 2014
Long used in criminal trials, motions to suppress can lead to the exclusion of evidence obtained by the government in violation of the Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, or related provisions of federal law. While the immediate purpose of filing a motion to suppress is to prevent the government from meeting its burden of proof, challenges to unlawfully obtained evidence can also deter future violations by law enforcement officers and thereby protect the rights of other noncitizens. The Supreme Court held in INS v. Lopez-Mendoza, 468 U.S. 1032 (1984), that motions to suppress evidence under the Fourth Amendment in immigration proceedings should be granted only for “egregious” violations or if violations became “widespread.” Despite this stringent standard, noncitizens have prevailed in many cases on motions to suppress.
October 4, 2013
The Council, along with the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG), is seeking to preserve federal court review of damages actions brought by noncitizens for abuse of authority by immigration agents. In actions brought under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), the government routinely moves to dismiss these cases on a variety of jurisdictional grounds, including by arguing that INA § 242(g) bars the court’s review of damages claims in any case involving removal procedures, and that a remedy under Bivens is not available in immigration-related actions. In essence, the government is attempting to deprive those who have been harmed by immigration agents of any remedy in federal court.
In March 2013, the American Immigration Council and Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, later joined by the Legal Aid Justice Center, filed a lawsuit alleging that CBP officers at Dulles Airport in Virginia unlawfully detained a U.S. citizen child for more than twenty hours, deprived her of contact with her parents, and then effectively deported her to Guatemala. The case was one of ten complaints filed the same week to highlight CBP abuses along the northern and southern borders.
In June 2012, the American Immigration Council, in collaboration with Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, filed suit against DHS and CBP for unlawfully withholding records concerning voluntary returns of noncitizens from the United States to their countries of origin. Voluntary return, also known as “administrative voluntary departure,” is a procedure whereby CBP officers permit noncitizens to voluntarily depart the United States at their own expense rather than undergoing formal removal proceedings. Noncitizens may be granted voluntary return to their countries of origin after conceding unlawful presence in the United States and knowingly and voluntarily waiving the right to contest removal.
Co-Plaintiffs American Immigration Council and AILA’s Connecticut chapter initially sought records related to the Criminal Alien Program (CAP) through a FOIA request to ICE in December 2011. When ICE refused to release responsive records, Plaintiffs filed suit under FOIA to compel their disclosure.
January 3, 2020

Many New Yorkers had a reason to celebrate on December 16, as they were permitted to apply for a driver’s license for the first time, even if they lacked permanent immigration status. Now, thanks...

December 17, 2019

Government officials were aware of the harm family separation would cause and were critical of the practice years before the Trump administration established it as an official policy. Advocates...

December 16, 2019

A recent federal court ruling in California could allow hundreds of thousands of immigrants currently and previously detained by private prison companies to demand compensation and damages for...

December 11, 2019
As U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has expanded immigration capacity across the country in recent years, the number of people held in its facilities with actual criminal records...
December 10, 2019
The rate at which U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained pregnant women increased 52% during the first two years of the Trump administration, according to a Government Accountability...
December 5, 2019

Attorney General Sessions’ orders to prioritize prosecuting people for immigration-related offenses in 2017 and 2018 put a significant strain on law enforcement across the border, diverting...

December 4, 2019

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)—the agency responsible for systematically separating thousands of migrant families in the summer of 2018—lacked the technology or mechanisms to record and...

December 2, 2019

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently published an update to its National Detention Standards (NDS), which govern the treatment of people held in facilities that rent some of...

November 25, 2019

Over the last decade, the remains of more than 1,600 people have been found in the Arizona desert. Groups like No More Deaths, whose mission is “ending death and suffering in the U.S.-Mexico...

November 20, 2019

In yet another major blow to America’s asylum system, on Wednesday the Trump administration reportedly began sending some asylum seekers from Honduras and El Salvador to Guatemala rather than...

December 21, 2016
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), represented by the American Immigration Council and Foley & Lardner LLP, filed a lawsuit to compel U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and to request release of the CBP Officer's Reference Tool (ORT).
November 18, 2016
A federal district court found that U.S. Customs and Border Protection is violating the constitutional rights of people detained in holding facilities in Arizona and ordered the government to take steps to improve conditions in these facilities, known as hieleras.
November 18, 2016
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions will be nominated to serve as Attorney General in President-Elect Trump’s new administration. The following is a statement from Beth Werlin, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council.
October 5, 2016
In accordance with a settlement reached by the parties, a federal district court dismissed a class action lawsuit which challenged U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) nationwide practice of failing to timely respond to requests for case information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
August 18, 2016
Today, groups made public damning evidence, including expert testimony and video stills illustrating the deplorable and unconstitutional conditions detained individuals are subjected to in Border Patrol custody in the agency’s Tucson Sector.
July 20, 2016

Washington, DC – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Immigration Council welcome plans announced by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for the release

July 20, 2016
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson released a statement on plans to make “substantial changes” to the agency’s family detention policies. The following is a statement, in response, from Ben Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council.
July 19, 2016
A class action lawsuit was filed by three immigration attorneys and eleven noncitizens challenging U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s nationwide practice of failing to timely respond to requests for case information under the Freedom of Information Act.
July 7, 2016
The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association commented on the decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirming that the nearly 20-year-old Flores Settlement Agreement governs the custody and release of all immigrant children, and that the Obama Administration’s family detention practices violate that agreement.
July 6, 2016
he American Immigration Council (Immigration Council), represented by Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, today filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act to compel the release of additional documents related to the complaints process at United States Customs and Border Protection.
This Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeks to uncover information about the Migration Protection Protocols (MPP)—also known as the "Remain in Mexico" program.
May 12, 2020
The American Immigration Council filed this amicus curiae brief in support of individuals who sought release from detention due to their significant risk of infection from COVID-19.
May 7, 2020
The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association , through their joint initiative the Immigration Justice Campaign, filed an oversight complaint with the Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and the Office of the Inspector General highlighting the experiences of individuals detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
May 7, 2020
ICE must stop transferring people—some of whom may already have COVID-19—across the country between detention centers.
May 7, 2020
The complaint calls on oversight agencies to demand immediate action by ICE to help stop the spread of the coronavirus where social distancing is not possible, including:

The American Immigration Council filed a lawsuit after Immigrant Customs Enforcement (ICE) failed to respond to a Freedom of Information...

May 4, 2020

A free phone call can mean the difference between a fair day in court and being deported to harm—or worse—for individuals held in immigration detention centers. Immigrants may not be able to meet...

April 28, 2020

The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) proposed rule mandating the collection of DNA from nearly all immigrants in government custody became final on April 8, 2020. For the first time in U.S. history,...

April 28, 2020
Today’s Court decision denying the emergency temporary restraining order in NIPNLG, et al., v. EOIR, et al., is deeply disappointing. This lawsuit was brought against the Executive Office for Immigration Review and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to protect the health of immigration attorneys, immigrants, and the public from the impact of dangerous and unconstitutional policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
April 27, 2020

Medical experts and government officials urge people to social distance to avoid contracting the coronavirus. Yet, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to hold tens of thousands of...

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