Border Enforcement

Our legal system rests upon the principle that everyone is entitled to due process of law and a meaningful opportunity to be heard. But for far too long, the immigration system has failed to provide noncitizens with a system of justice that lives up to this standard. Learn about ways in which the immigration system could ensure that all noncitizens have a fair day in court.  

Recent Features

All Border Enforcement Content

May 9, 2013
The Important Economic Relationship of Mexico and the United States Mexico is the United States’ third largest trading partner, after Canada and China, in terms of total trade in goods, while the U.S...
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...
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...

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...

November 18, 2019

Nearly 60,000 people seeking asylum in the United States have been returned to Mexico to wait for their U.S. court hearings under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the Remain...

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...

November 8, 2018
The Trump administration revealed today a new interim final regulation that restricts access to asylum at the border, causing chaos and uncertainty for many seeking protection.
October 16, 2018
In a new court filing, asylum seekers and an immigrant rights group are challenging the Trump administration’s policy and practice of turning back asylum seekers at ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border
September 6, 2018
The Trump administration proposed new regulations that could lead to the indefinite detention—and needless suffering—of asylum-seeking children.
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.
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 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 23, 2020
During the course of the trial, a federal judge heard from qualified experts who testified on the inadequate medical care and severe conditions inside CBP detention centers.
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...

January 13, 2020
The trial in a legal challenge to the horrific conditions in U.S. Border Patrol's short-term detention facilities across the Tucson sector, filed in June 2015 by immigration groups, begins on Monday, Jan. 13 at the U.S. District Court in Tucson, Arizona.
January 10, 2020
Over the last two decades, the federal government increasingly has utilized the criminal courts to punish people for immigration violations. This overview provides basic information about entry-...
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...

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