Border Enforcement

The U.S. immigration system is complex and can be difficult to understand. These resources provide key data points, historical information, and background on hot topics in immigration. Learn the basics about immigration.

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April 15, 2010
The Secure Border Initiative (SBI), launched by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2005, is a cautionary tale of the dangers inherent in seeking a technological quick fix to the problem of...
March 2, 2010
The month of March marks the seventh anniversary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its immigration agencies. It also marks the end of a sweeping internal review ordered by Secretary...
February 4, 2010
The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) reports that federal immigration prosecutions rose to record levels during fiscal year...
June 17, 2009
The Department of Homeland Security released a report this week showing that apprehensions...
May 22, 2008
While the U.S. government has poured billions upon billions of dollars into immigration enforcement, the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has increased dramatically. Rather than...
May 21, 2008
Since the mid-1980s, the federal government has tried repeatedly, without success, to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants to the United States with immigration-enforcement initiatives: deploying...
May 2, 2007
Since 9/11 the watchword in the debate over immigration reform has been “security.” As a result, most policymakers and pundits now approach the subject of immigration largely from a law-enforcement...
February 15, 2007
Ongoing reports about Mexico’s bloody conflict with organized crime have raised again the question of whether the United States should do more to prevent such violence from “spilling over” into the...
February 1, 2007
By Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith, M. Melissa McCormick, Daniel Martinez & Inez Magdalena Duarte
September 1, 2006
Access to an independent judiciary with the power to hold the government accountable in its dealings with individuals is a founding principle of the United States. In contrast, imagine a system...
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.
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.

Based on reports from immigration advocates, CBP officers do not always provide noncitizens with information regarding the consequences of accepting voluntary return...

January 23, 2020

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began collecting DNA from people held at the border earlier this month. This is part of a pilot program that DHS plans to expand nationwide. The program...

January 22, 2020

Iranian students coming to the United States are being stopped at airports, having their visas revoked, and are being deported. Advocates warn this trend is emerging less than a month after...

January 21, 2020

The Trump administration received an unfortunate victory in the case against their family separation policy. On January 13, 2020, Federal Judge Dana Sabraw sided with the government in a lawsuit...

January 15, 2020

After more than four years of gathering evidence of the substandard conditions in the government’s short-term detention facilities in Arizona’s Tucson Sector, a case challenging these conditions...

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 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...

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...

November 19, 2019

The Trump administration is preparing to seize private land in Texas to continue construction of the president’s long-promised border wall. According to government officials familiar with the...

June 20, 2018
President Donald Trump signed an executive order today to try to stem criticism of his family separation policy. He has offered an unacceptable alternative: imprisoning mothers and fathers with their children.
June 7, 2018
José Crespo Cagnant filed a lawsuit to hold the government accountable for abusive, unlawful conduct and depriving him of an opportunity to apply for asylum.
May 7, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting Director Thomas Homan announced today that the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security will be stepping up prosecutions of individuals along the southern border—likely resulting in the criminalization of asylum seekers and more family separation.
December 11, 2017
A complaint on behalf of family members who have been forcibly separated while in custody at the southern border of the United States was filed with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General and Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
October 8, 2017
The White House released its long anticipated, "Immigration Principles and Policies," which lay out many of the already-stated aspirations of the Trump administration on immigration. The laundry list represents a wholesale attack on immigration and immigrants. It includes not only limits on immigration generally, but enables mass deportations and envisions bypassing necessary procedures that protect children and asylum seekers.
August 16, 2017
The parties in Dilley Pro Bono Project v. ICE have reached a settlement that ensures access to mental health evaluations for certain detained mothers and children seeking asylum.
July 12, 2017

Washington D.C. - Today an immigrant rights group and several asylum seekers filed a class action lawsuit against officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S.

June 2, 2017
Access to legal counsel is a core American value and is the cornerstone of our justice system. Yet, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has severely limited access to legal assistance for asylum-seeking women and children held in family detention facilities.
May 25, 2017
AILA and the Council have petitioned the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to issue new regulations that will ensure all immigrants have access to legal counsel in secondary and deferred inspection, as well as overseas consular interviews.
February 17, 2017
The memo calls for the expansion of detentions and deportations, the hiring of more Border Patrol agents, the use of State National Guards, the building of a border wall, and the creation of new barriers for asylum seekers, among other provisions.
June 10, 2020

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recently condemned U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for its role in separating families at the border in 2018. Like previous inspections, the...

May 27, 2020

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government has implemented sweeping revisions to U.S. immigration policy. Many of the changes fail to prioritize the health of immigrants or...

May 27, 2020
The American Immigration Council's latest report examines major changes to the U.S. immigration system in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unique challenges the pandemic has created for noncitizens and government agencies.
May 26, 2020

The Trump administration has indefinitely extended its ban on immigration at U.S. land borders.  The order was also expanded to include immigrants arriving at coastal ports. The ban is based on an...

May 14, 2020
The American Immigration Council, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Human Rights Watch, and the law firm Winston & Strawn LLP filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Northern District of California today to compel the release of records about the US Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the “Remain in Mexico” program.
April 2, 2020

Nearly two years after the “zero tolerance” policy was announced, evidence condemning the practice and implementation of family separation continues to mount. A recent report from the U.S....

March 31, 2020
A federal court in Arizona allowed five asylum-seeking mothers and their children who were torn apart under the Trump administration’s family separation policy to move forward with a lawsuit against the United States for the cruel treatment and anguish U.S. immigration agencies inflicted on them. The court denied the government’s motion to dismiss the case.
March 23, 2020

The Trump administration detailed its plans to begin rapidly deporting to Mexico people encountered at or near the southern border—without any due process—as the coronavirus continues to spread...

March 18, 2020

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has historically conducted immigration enforcement along our borders. In this role, the agency has developed a reputation for overuse and abuse of its...

March 11, 2020

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revealed new information this week about two asylum programs  at the U.S.-Mexico border. These programs are under scrutiny because they make it almost...

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