Due Process and the Courts

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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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...
December 1, 2003
Children who travel unaccompanied to the United States experience not only the trauma of family separation and the frequently predatory behavior of the traffickers who bring them, but also harsh...
May 25, 2017
This petition, jointly filed by the Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, seeks to provide access to legal counsel for the following individuals.
March 27, 2017
This amicus brief arguing that any Fourth Amendment violation by state and local law enforcement officers — not just egregious Fourth Amendments violations — should require the suppression of evidence in immigration court proceedings, which is the same standard that applies in the criminal justice arena.
This lawsuit challenged obstacles faced by asylum-seekers in satisfying the statutory requirement that they apply for asylum within one year of entering the United States.
August 17, 2015
The Council submitted an amicus brief arguing that immigration judges’ duty to develop the record is particularly important in pro se litigants’ cases, and that this duty requires immigration judges to provide noncitizens with information about the types of relief they are seeking and to actively elicit relevant information. For more information about this topic, contact the Council's legal department.
April 16, 2015
The Council and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild submitted an amicus brief in support of rehearing addressing immigration judges’ duty, in pro se cases, to fully inform litigants of the consequences of their legal decisions and to ensure that any waivers of appeal are knowing and intelligent. The Ninth Circuit denied the petition for rehearing in a non-precedent decision. For more information on this topic, contact the Council's legal department.
March 1, 2015
By statute, noncitizens who have been ordered removed have the right to file one motion to reopen. 8 U.S.C. § 1229a(c)(7)(A). In most cases, these statutory motions to reopen are subject to strict filing deadlines. See 8 U.S.C. §§ 1229a(c)(7)(C)(i), (b)(5)(C)(i). However, as nine courts of appeals have recognized, the deadlines are subject to equitable tolling, a long-recognized principle through which courts can waive the application of certain non-jurisdictional statutes of limitations where a plaintiff was diligent but nonetheless unable to comply with the filing deadline. Several courts have also recognized that the numerical limitation on motions to reopen is subject to tolling. The Council continues to advocate in the remaining courts of appeals for recognition that that the motion to reopen deadlines are subject to equitable tolling and, with the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers' Guild (NIPNLG), has filed amicus briefs in the Fourth, Fifth and Eleventh Circuits.
January 29, 2015
The Council submitted comments in response to a request by DHS and the Department of State (DOS) for input on streamlining and improving the U.S. immigrant and nonimmigrant visa systems. In the comments, the Council recommended that DHS amend 8 C.F.R. § 292.5(b) to ensure that individuals in secondary inspection are provided with a regulatory right to counsel during their examinations, and that DOS promulgate regulations in 22 C.F.R. Part 40 to provide for meaningful access to counsel during interviews at consular posts.
October 1, 2014
The synopsis provides a summary of CBP policies related to access to counsel, based on documents obtained through the Council’s FOIA request and litigation. The summary addresses access to counsel in inspections and CBP detention, and policies on advisals of rights and the treatment of children.
This lawsuits seeks recognition of a right to appointed counsel for unrepresented children in immigration proceedings nationwide.
March 21, 2014
Noncitizens facing removal must have a meaningful opportunity to present their cases to an immigration judge. On occasion, noncitizens are deprived of this opportunity due to their lawyers’ incompetence or mistake. Although the government has recognized the need for a remedy for ineffective assistance of counsel, see Matter of Lozada, 19 I&N Dec. 637 (BIA 1988), the framework currently used to evaluate whether ineffective assistance has occurred is severely flawed. The Council has long worked to protect the right to effective assistance of counsel for noncitizens in removal proceedings.
December 1, 2015
The immigration courts’ unprecedented backlogs are creating procedural and substantive challenges for attorneys trying to comply with the One-Year Filing Deadline (OYFD) in asylum cases. This Practice Advisory discusses strategies and procedures for complying with the OYFD.
November 9, 2015
Noncitizens may file a petition for review in the court of appeals to seek judicial review of a final removal order. This Practice Advisory addresses the procedures and general requirements for filing and litigating a petition for review.
November 6, 2015

This Practice Advisory provides basic information about mandamus actions and suggests strategies and practice tips for bringing a mandamus action against the Department of Labor (DOL).

October 22, 2015
This Practice Advisory focuses on the meaning of “admission” in four very specific, but frequently encountered situations: a “wave-through” at a port of entry; and entry based on misrepresentation; an entry based on a false claim to U.S. citizenship; and the grant of TPS as an admission for purposes of adjustment of status.
June 17, 2014
Litigants who are successful in their federal court cases against the government may be able to recover attorneys’ fees and costs under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). The American Immigration Council and National Immigration Project have reissued their Practice Advisory on EAJA. The Advisory discusses the statutory requirements for eligibility and other procedural and substantive aspects of filing a fee application under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA).
February 5, 2014
The American Immigration Council’s Practice Advisory, Employment Authorization and Asylum: Strategies to Avoid Stopping the Asylum Clock, has been updated to reflect extensive changes to the manner in which the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) determine an asylum applicant’s eligibility for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
January 21, 2014
This Practice Advisory provides background information about requesting stays of removal from the court of appeals, discusses the legal standard for obtaining a stay, and addresses the implications of the government’s policy with respect to return of individuals who are successful on their appeal.
November 20, 2013

This Practice Advisory discusses the "departure bar" to motions to reopen and arguments adopted by circuit courts that have rejected or upheld the bar.

October 23, 2013
Section 336(b) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. § 1447(b), gives a district court jurisdiction to intervene in a case where USCIS has failed to make a decision on the naturalization application within 120 days of the applicant’s “examination” by USCIS. This Practice Advisory discusses the nuts and bolts of bringing a suit under INA § 336(b). It also discusses when attorneys fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act are available.
June 20, 2013
This Practice Advisory discusses the primary issues involved in a suit brought under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to challenge an unlawful agency action. The Advisory provides examples of how these issues have been decided in immigration cases and arguments that can be made to meet the various procedural requirements for an APA action.
September 24, 2019

When Donald Trump took office in January 2017, the immigration courts faced a record backlog of over 542,000 cases. This month, the immigration court backlog hit a new historic high with over 1,...

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....

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 27, 2019

The Trump administration implemented more drastic changes to the U.S. immigration court system on Monday. A new rule gives the director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)—a...

August 19, 2019

A federal appeals court in California ruled on Thursday that immigrant children must receive edible food, clean water, soap, and toothpaste while being detained by U.S. immigration authorities....

August 12, 2019

Immigration judges around the country are denouncing the Trump administration’s latest move to “disband and destroy” their union. The judges’ union has been openly critical of the administration’s...

August 9, 2019

In an attempt to rush through immigrant families’ court cases, the government began implementing “rocket dockets” in September 2018 for parents and children who had recently entered the United...

August 6, 2019

The Trump administration recently announced it would start applying a fast-tracked deportation process known as “expedited removal” to hundreds of thousands more people than ever before. People...

July 31, 2019

Attorney General William Barr issued a decision that significantly restricts the ability of many current asylum seekers to win their cases on Monday. In Matter of L-E-A-, Barr issued a new...

July 26, 2019

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision clarifying limits on when federal prosecutors can charge immigrants with illegal entry and reentry into the United States this week.  Under...

September 21, 2018
Yesterday, plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit challenging the U.S. government’s targeted efforts to obstruct asylum seekers filed a motion for preliminary injunction demanding timely bond hearings that comport with due process.
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.
May 17, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions unilaterally removed immigration judges’ general authority to administratively close cases. Ending the use of administrative closure will have far-reaching consequences for those in removal proceedings, including adding tens of thousands of cases to an already over-burdened immigration court system.
April 25, 2018
Citing pushback from congressional leaders, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Executive Office for Immigration Review, part of the Department of Justice, will continue the Legal Orientation Program.
April 23, 2018
In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Council received a partially redacted report written by Booz Allen Hamilton and commissioned by the Executive Office for Immigration Review. The comprehensive report investigated a range of immigration court issues including judicial performance reviews, Legal Orientation Programs, and procedural mechanisms, such as administrative closure, that can be used to streamline caseloads.
April 11, 2018
The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), part of the Department of Justice (DOJ), announced its intention to cancel the Legal Orientation Program (LOP) despite its immensely positive impact on judicial efficiency and fundamental fairness, and Congress’ express instruction to continue such programming, along with the provision of funding in the fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill, recently signed by the president.
April 3, 2018
The Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), part of the Department of Justice (DOJ), has instituted strict quotas as part of immigration judges' individual performance evaluations, a shift that strips away the independence held by judges who are making high stakes decisions about whether a person will be deported.
March 29, 2018
A federal district court judge in Washington State ruled today that the federal government’s failure to notify asylum seekers that they must apply for asylum within one year of arriving in the United States violated their right to due process, and ordered the government to provide such notice.
February 21, 2018
The American Immigration Council, joined by several other immigration groups, submitted an amicus brief that argues that due process requires an impartial adjudicator and that Sessions’ anti-immigrant statements and actions prevent him from acting as one. The brief lays out Sessions’ decades-long public record of anti-immigrant statements, including specific statements evidencing prejudgment of issues in the case, and urges Sessions to either vacate the referral order or recuse himself from the case.
January 18, 2018
The lawsuit challenges the practice of three of the four sitting immigration judges in the Charlotte Immigration Court who refuse to conduct bond hearings—even though they are required to do so—and are consequently prolonging the detention of bond-eligible individuals for several weeks.
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 22, 2019
This practice advisory provides a brief overview of administrative closure and explains the impact of that decision on the future availability of administrative closure, as well as on cases that are currently administratively closed.
October 17, 2019

A federal court in San Francisco certified two nationwide classes of immigrants and attorneys challenging extreme agency delays in producing immigration case files. Plaintiffs allege that U.S....

October 15, 2019

The Supreme Court began a new session this October, and in the coming months, the justices will hear several high-profile immigration cases. These cases involve the attempted termination of the...

October 15, 2019
A federal court in San Francisco certified two nationwide classes of immigrants and attorneys claiming that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have a systemic pattern and practice of failing to provide access to immigration case records within deadlines set by the Freedom of Information Act. The case records, known as A-files, contain information about individuals’ immigration history in the United States. This is the first time a court has certified a class in a lawsuit alleging a pattern and practice of violating FOIA
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 4, 2019
This practice advisory summarizes the most common grounds raised by the government in motions to dismiss federal court agency adjudication delay lawsuits and outlines arguments, with supporting authority, that can be made in response.
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 28, 2019
A federal court has blocked a Trump administration policy that sought to massively expand fast-track deportations without a fair legal process such as a court hearing or access to an attorney. The American Immigration Council, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP sought the preliminary injunction, which was granted close to midnight on Friday by U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

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