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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October 19, 2011
Many political pundits, GOP presidential aspirants, and Members of Congress want to have it both ways when it comes to federal spending on immigration. On the one hand, there is much talk about the...
October 6, 2011
One of the ugliest myths in the immigration debate is that immigrants are more likely to commit crime or pose a danger to society. Although studies repeatedly have shown that immigrants are less...
September 12, 2011
The external borders of the United States matter to security, but how and in what ways is neither automatic nor obvious. The current assumption is that borders defend the national interior against...
September 1, 2011
If the United States wants effective border security, then more effective law‐enforcement measures must be taken.
July 20, 2011
On June 17, 2011, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton issued two significant memoranda on the use of prosecutorial discretion in immigration matters. Prosecutorial...
July 6, 2011
One of the ugliest myths in the immigration debate involves the relationship between immigrants and crime. While studies repeatedly have shown that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than...
April 27, 2011
California is home to nearly 10 million immigrants, more than one quarter of the state’s population. Of those, 2.7 million are undocumented, and the vast majority of them have been living in the...
April 26, 2011
One year after the passage of Arizona’s tough new immigration law (SB1070), both opponents and proponents are...
April 26, 2011
There is much confusion about the term “sanctuary city.” The term is often used derisively by immigration opponents to blast what are best described as community policing policies. Critics claim...
March 24, 2011
Our national debate over urgently needed immigration reform is now careening through our state legislatures, city halls, and town councils due to political gridlock at the federal level. And nowhere...
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.

Advocates in states along the northern border of the United States have reported that Border Patrol agents frequently “assist” other law enforcement agencies by serving...

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.

Recommendations that DHS promulgate new regulations that ensure more effective oversight over the issuance of detainers and better protection for those subject to detainers.

October 18, 2019

President Trump has made the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border a cornerstone of his presidency. To date, not a single mile of new barriers has been erected. But the Trump...

October 16, 2019

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law on Friday that will phase out private prisons—including federal immigration detention centers—throughout the state. The new law, AB 32,...

October 11, 2019

People in immigration detention who are represented by an attorney are more likely to receive a positive outcome in immigration court than those that face judges alone. Unfortunately, people who...

October 10, 2019

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has arrested millions of people based on unreliable electronic databases. In a recent court decision with nationwide impact, a federal judge in...

October 8, 2019

Officers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)—a law enforcement agency with a history of misconduct and abuse—are reportedly conducting screenings of asylum seekers pursuing protection in...

October 7, 2019

Nebane Abienwi, a 37-year-old man who had recently fled war-torn Cameroon, died in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody on Tuesday. His passing—the first of the new fiscal year...

October 2, 2019

A federal judge on Friday blocked the Trump administration’s attempts to significantly undo the Flores Settlement Agreement, which mandates certain protections for children held in immigration...

September 30, 2019

A federal judge blocked the expansion of a fast-track deportation program, known as “expedited removal,” minutes before the government said it would begin implementing its expansion on September...

September 26, 2019

Immigration enforcement may be a federal responsibility, but state governments have a great deal of power over the conditions under which immigrants are detained. At a time when over-crowded...

September 25, 2019

The mass deportation of immigrants from the United States under the Secure Communities program has had no appreciable impact on local crime rates. Why? Because most of the immigrants being...

January 17, 2017
A coalition of immigrant and civil rights groups filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, last Friday and the Office of Inspector General, on behalf of numerous adult men and women, families and unaccompanied children who, over the past several months, were denied entry to the United States at ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border.
December 22, 2016
This registry, known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), was shown to be ineffective and had not been used for years.
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.
February 13, 2020

A federal judge in Arizona reversed convictions of four volunteers of the humanitarian aid group No More Deaths last week. No More Deaths is an Arizona-based group that works to end death and...

February 10, 2020

The Trump administration is cracking down on New York over its refusal to share residents’ driver’s license records with immigration authorities. Now, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has...

February 5, 2020

President Trump issued the fourth travel ban of his presidency on Friday. This ban comes almost three years to the day after the first one brought thousands of protesters to airports around the...

February 4, 2020

In U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody, asylum seekers are detained in horribly cold and overcrowded facilities, unable to sleep, without access to food, water, or adequate medical...

February 3, 2020

Three years into the Trump administration, it’s become clear that we have lost our rudder. For a nation that long-provided a welcome mat to the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, our...

January 31, 2020

The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association submitted an amicus brief in Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center v. Wolf, a case filed by the American...

January 29, 2020
This fact sheet explains the complicated interplay and application of protection and border processing policies.
January 28, 2020

One year ago today, a confused Honduran man seeking asylum in the United States became the first person to be turned away from the border and sent back to Mexico to await a U.S. court hearing. He...

January 27, 2020

Monday marks the third anniversary of the Trump administration’s travel ban—a presidential proclamation that needlessly divides families on the basis of their religion and nationality. The...

January 24, 2020

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill sent a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) this month demanding the release of all transgender people in ICE’s custody. At least two transgender...

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