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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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...
April 10, 2006
The U.S. government's efforts to stem undocumented immigration by fortifying the U.S.-Mexico border have increased the profitability of the people-smuggling business and fostered greater...
February 1, 2006
Most of the border-enforcement and immigration-reform proposals currently being considered in Washington, DC, are not comprehensive or adequate solutions to the issue of undocumented immigration. The...
September 1, 2005
A proper understanding of the causes of international migration suggests that punitive immigration and border policies tend to backfire, and this is precisely what has happened in the case of the...
August 1, 2005
The current crisis of undocumented immigration to the United States has its roots in fundamental misunderstandings about the causes of immigration and the motivations of immigrants. A growing body of...
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...

July 9, 2020

Even as President Trump downplays the threat of COVID-19, the Trump administration is using the pandemic as a pretext to bar more people from asylum in the United States. While the proposal is...

July 6, 2020

Immigrant children who arrive in the United States without a parent are placed in shelters or foster care while their guardianship and immigration process play out. But all too often, U.S....

June 30, 2020

The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently published a report analyzing U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) treatment of noncitizens at the border in...

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 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...

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 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...

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.
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.
March 19, 2021

A pause on border wall construction is set to expire on March 20, without an indication of what will happen next. President Biden signed a proclamation ordering the 60-day pause on his first day...

The Council filed multiple Freedom of Information Act requests to unearth the systems that the government uses in immigration enforcement and the data it collects.
The Council and Advocates for Basic Legal Equality have launched an investigation into the abusive practices of CBP officers and cooperation with local law enforcement in Ohio.
March 9, 2021

Since 2013, the government has struggled to respond to increasing numbers of unaccompanied children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border. After disastrous Trump administration policies left...

This Freedom of Information Act lawsuit calls on CBP to release records documenting the agency’s aggressive and militarized response to the provision of humanitarian aid.
February 16, 2021
The American Immigration Council urged DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to reject the use of expedited removal and immigration detention of asylum seekers.
February 12, 2021

The Trump administration sent over 70,000 people who came to the U.S border seeking asylum back to Mexico to wait for court hearings. This so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols” (“MPP”) program...

February 12, 2021
The Council submitted this declaration in support of the ACLU's defense of the Biden Administration's moratorium on deportations. This declaration explains how the removal and detention system works.
February 11, 2021

The U.S. Border Patrol has been rooted in institutional racism since its founding in 1924. Almost a century later, the agency continues to commit racially fueled violent acts with near impunity....

February 10, 2021
This report presents a historical overview of how U.S. Border Patrol has been steeped in institutional racism and has committed violent acts with near impunity since its founding nearly 100 years ago...

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