Border 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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All Border Enforcement Content

April 2, 2013
Since the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created in 2003, its immigration-enforcement agencies—Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—have been...
January 8, 2013
With roughly 11 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States, some question whether the nation’s immigration laws are being seriously enforced. In truth, due to legal and policy...
September 25, 2012
Advocates along the Northern Border report a recent, sharp increase in the use of U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents to provide interpretation services to state and local law enforcement officers and...
February 23, 2012
As federal officers, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents may only exercise the authority granted under federal statutes and regulations. This fact sheet provides a snapshot of search, interrogation...
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...
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.
May 26, 2010
Immigration Enforcement without Immigration Reform Doesn’t Work This week, the Senate will consider amendments to the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill that would add thousands of additional...
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...
The Council and its partners filed suit after CBP failed to respond to a 2013 FOIA After the case was filed, CBP disclosed only a handful of documents—primarily, indices of two ORT chapters without any substantive information—and then moved for summary judgment, claiming that it was not required to search for or produce any additional documents.
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.
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...

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...

September 23, 2019

In the Trump administration’s rush to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, 22 archaeological sites could be damaged or entirely destroyed. This warning comes from an internal National Park...

September 20, 2019

Five mothers and their children sued the U.S. government on Thursday for forcibly separating them in 2018. The five families are among the thousands of parents and young children who were split...

September 19, 2019

In summer 2018, the Trump administration attempted to deter asylum-seeking families from coming to the United States by separating children from their parents at the southern border. It was...

September 12, 2019

The Supreme Court issued an emergency ruling on Wednesday allowing the Trump administration to implement a ban on asylum seekers at the southern land border. The ban applies to people who...

September 9, 2019

The first thing many people forcibly returned to Mexico tell you is that they’re afraid. Afraid of the cartels, afraid of Mexican immigration officials, and afraid of the months of uncertainty....

September 6, 2019

The Trump administration is raiding the Department of Defense’s budget to fund construction of its border wall. According to Pentagon officials, 127 military construction projects will be canceled...

September 4, 2019

Border Patrol agents placed a detained 9-year-old girl with a kidney disease at high risk of a urinary tract infection by not allowing her to shower or change her underwear for five days. Agents...

August 29, 2019

Immigration judges from across the country will soon be reassigned from their normal caseload to  preside over thousands of immigration cases along the U.S.-Mexico border, reportedly in an effort...

August 26, 2019

Over 2,000 people from Central American who were seeking to live in the United States have reportedly given up and accepted a “free ride” home under a new, controversial program funded by the U.S...

August 23, 2018
The complaint points to numerous examples, including that of Mrs. D.P., who was separated from her 9-year-old daughter for 47 days as a result of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' "zero-tolerance" border policy.
August 16, 2018
As government officials and policymakers weigh the potential expansion of family detention, this report reveals how detention impacts asylum-seeking families and their claims for protection.
July 26, 2018
"The government’s failure to comply with the court order to reunify the thousands of separated children and parents confirms the administration’s utter disregard for the humane and fair treatment of families coming to our country in search of protection."
July 9, 2018
Leaders of several immigrant and human rights organizations were invited for the first time under the Trump administration to meet with Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.
June 27, 2018
The lawsuit asks the court to compel the agencies to produce family separation documents in response to FOIA requests submitted in April.
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.
November 15, 2019

A federal court ruled this week that sweeping policies permitting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to search personal cell phones,...

November 6, 2019

It’s been nearly a year since the Trump administration announced the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), or the “Remain in Mexico” program. This program forces vulnerable asylum seekers to return...

October 28, 2019

The Trump administration began a secretive new asylum process in El Paso, Texas that came to light late last week. It seeks to deter asylum seekers from coming to the United States and to remove...

October 24, 2019

Federal immigration officials are beginning to expand their use of surveillance technology to collect information on immigrants. As officials gather more tools in their arsenal—from DNA collection...

October 24, 2019
Media reports today indicate that the government has initiated a new pilot program in El Paso, Texas to rush the review of sensitive asylum cases. The reported program, called “Prompt Asylum Case Review,” forces families to navigate the asylum process while detained in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
October 23, 2019

Rape, violence, kidnapping, and lack of basic health care is, unfortunately, a reality for hundreds of asylum seekers subjected to the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) or “Remain in Mexico”...

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 14, 2019
Since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003, the federal government has spent an estimated $324 billion on the agencies that carry out immigration enforcement.
This lawsuit seeks to uncover information about the government’s troubling new practice of employing U.S. Custom and Border Protection officers to screen asylum seekers.
October 2, 2019
The American Immigration Council and Tahirih Justice Center filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in federal court to compel the government to release records about the Trump administration’s troubling new practice of allowing U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to screen individuals seeking asylum in the United States. The lawsuit seeks these documents to shed light on changes to the asylum screening process, CBP’s role in conducting interviews and making determinations regarding an asylum seeker’s “credible fear” of persecution, and the measures taken by CBP, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Department of Homeland Security to implement this new practice.

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