Right to Counsel

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.

Recent Features

All Right to Counsel Content

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.
February 14, 2012
The Council and AILA submitted comments on the USCIS Interim Memo “The Role of Private Attorneys and Other Representatives; Revisions to Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) Chapters 12 and 15; AFM Update AD11-42.” The comments recommended, among other things, that USCIS take additional steps to clarify the role of attorneys and the treatment of attorneys’ written submissions; to address continued limitations on attorney seating; to expand the requirements related to waivers of representation; and to improve the complaint process.

The American Immigration Council, with co-counsel Dorsey & Whitney LLP, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to compel the release of records relating to noncitizens’ access to counsel.

August 8, 2011
In this letter, the Council and AILA urged ICE to address reports of restrictions on access to counsel in a range of interview settings. These restrictions, documented in a nation-wide survey of immigration attorneys, included complete bars to attorney presence during ICE interviews and limits on participation when attorneys are permitted to be present. Attorneys also reported that ICE officers often were antagonistic toward attorneys.
June 14, 2011
The Council and AILA provided recommendations for changes to the USCIS Adjudicator's Field Manual (AFM) to better safeguard the attorney's role in USCIS interviews. These recommendations were in response to a request from USCIS to present specific recommendations for changes to USCIS guidance on access to counsel.
May 10, 2011
In this May 11, 2011 letter, the Council and AILA urged CBP to address restrictions on access to counsel. These restrictions - documented in a nation-wide survey of immigration attorneys - included limitations on attorneys’ access to their clients in secondary and deferred inspection. In instances where attorneys were able to accompany their clients, CBP officers limited the scope of representation. Attorneys also reported that CBP officers prevented attorneys from providing relevant documentation and sometimes adopted an adversarial approach.
The American Immigration Council, with co-counsel Dorsey & Whitney LLP, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to compel the release of records relating to noncitizens’ access to counsel.
The American Immigration Council, with co-counsel Dorsey & Whitney LLP, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to compel the release of records relating to noncitizens’ access to counsel.

The Council filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to compel the release of records relating to noncitizens’ access to counsel before Immigration and Customs Enforement...

September 7, 2018

The Department of Justice (DOJ) released “Phase I” of its review of the federally-funded Legal Orientation Program (LOP) this week. The review came after Attorney General Jeff Sessions attempted...

April 25, 2018

Just two weeks after the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a suspension of the Legal Orientation Program (LOP), Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified today that DOJ will reverse course and...

April 11, 2018

In its latest attack on due process and access to counsel in the immigration court system, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) has decided to suspend its Legal Orientation Program (...

February 28, 2018

Indefinitely detained immigrants facing possible deportation lost ground in their fight for the right to a bond hearing following a Supreme Court decision on Tuesday. Their sole remaining weapon...

October 20, 2017

Immigrants facing deportation fare far better if they have a competent attorney representing them. For example, studies show that for asylum seekers, representation generally doubles the...

October 13, 2017

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly intending to implement numerical quotas on Immigration Judges as a way of evaluating their performance. This move would undermine judicial...

October 12, 2017

During a public appearance at the Department of Justice on Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions called on Congress to curb due process for immigrants by making it more difficult for an...

October 3, 2017

When the Supreme Court hears arguments in Jennings v. Rodriguez, the Justices will tackle a question eight of them considered in 2016: whether the Constitution allows the government to detain...

August 21, 2017

Nothing is a better predictor of an immigrant’s success in their immigration case, than whether or not they have access to competent legal assistance. However, the U.S. Government has at times...

August 10, 2017

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument on Tuesday in C.J.L.G. v. Sessions – a case that raises grave due process concerns for indigent immigrant children. At issue is whether an...

July 19, 2019
The American Immigration Council, American Immigration Lawyers Association, and Immigrant Defense Project filed a lawsuit Wednesday in federal court to compel the government to release records and data about the Department of Justice’s Institutional Hearing Program, an obscure program that expedites the deportation of immigrants who are serving time for criminal offenses. The lawsuit seeks to understand how the IHP operates, where it operates, and who it targets.
November 21, 2018
The American Immigration Council announced today that it will focus on the critical need for access to an attorney when navigating the immigration system during its #GivingTuesday and year-end fundraising campaign starting November 27.
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.
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.
September 30, 2015

Today, Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), the American Immigration Council, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), and the American Immigration Lawyers As

July 9, 2014
The American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public Counsel, and K&L Gates LLP today filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of children who are challenging the federal government's failure to provide them with legal representation as it carries out deportation hearings against them.
April 12, 2013

Court Says ICE Failed to Satisfy FOIA Requirements in Council’s Suit to Compel
Disclosure of Records on Access to Counsel

November 29, 2012

This week, a federal district court issued an opinion highly critical

November 2, 2012

Challenging Matter of E-R-M-F- & A-S-M-:
Warrantless Arrests and the Timing of Right to Counsel Advisals

April 8, 2020
Immigration groups moved for an emergency temporary restraining order against the Executive Office for Immigration Review and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in order to protect the health of immigration attorneys, immigrants, and the public from the impact of dangerous and unconstitutional policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Council filed a lawsuit to close the immigration courts and ensure due process.
March 30, 2020
This lawsuit demands the government take immediate actions to prioritize the health and safety of attorneys and clients at risk in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
March 23, 2020
In a letter calling for prioritizing the health and safety of government employees, detained individuals, and their legal representatives amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, together with the National Immigrant Justice Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and more than 100 other organizations, urged the U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to immediately authorize the robust and automatic use of remote options for immigration court appearances and attorney-client meetings.
February 4, 2020

In U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody, asylum seekers are detained in horribly cold and overcrowded facilities, unable to sleep, without access to food, water, or adequate medical...

January 31, 2020

The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association submitted an amicus brief in Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center v. Wolf, a case filed by the American...

January 29, 2020

The American Immigration Council submitted a written statement to the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship for a January 29, 2020, hearing on "Courts in Crisis:...

December 3, 2019

Every year, thousands of people are forced to face the complex deportation system without an attorney representing them. Now, the immigration courts are seeking to limit the assistance that these...

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...

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.

Most Read

  • Publications
  • Blog Posts
  • Past:
  • Trending