Immigration Courts

While updating our immigration system has been a slow process, over the last decade, there have been efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation and the DREAM Act. Other reform efforts include executive actions such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). Learn more about the ways America can upgrade its immigration system.

Recent Features

All Immigration Courts Content

May 15, 2013
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, immigration courts have failed to provide...
June 11, 2012
In August 2011, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would review more than 300,000 pending removal proceedings to identify low-priority cases meriting favorable exercises of...
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...
April 3, 2019

This complaint highlights systemic due process violations that are undermining justice for detained immigrants called before judges at the El Paso Service Processing Center (SPC) Immigration Court...

We filed a FOIA request seeking statistical information, as well as policies and guidance, regarding Board of Immigration Appeals standards for issuing stays of removal. Because the government failed to respond, we're filing a lawsuit.
December 3, 2018
In Matter of Negusie, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions referred to himself the question of whether coercion and duress are relevant to the application of the immigration statute’s persecutor bar for individuals seeking asylum or withholding of removal
September 24, 2018
This amicus brief discusses how Sessions’ public statements indicate prejudgment about the use of continuances and explains how Sessions’ use of the referral authority suggests that he is choosing to refer cases to himself to achieve predetermined political and policymaking goals.
This case challenges the punitive practice of keeping asylum seekers in custody for weeks or months without access to credible fear interviews or bond hearings and the lack of basic procedural protections—like hearing transcripts and written decisions—in bond hearings, as well as whether asylum seekers must bear the burden of proof in bond proceedings.

With the end of prosecutorial discretion under the Trump administration, noncitizens living in the United States with a removal order face quick, and almost certain deportation unless they have...

The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)—the...

April 18, 2018

The American Immigration Council submitted a written statement to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration for an April 18, 2018 hearing on “Strengthening and Reforming...

April 18, 2018
The statement shares our analysis and research regarding the nation's immigration courts, due process, and the importance of a truly fair day in court.
February 19, 2018
In the case, Attorney General Jeff Sessions referred to himself questions related to administrative closure. This move by Sessions could signal an attempt to end administrative closure altogether—which could force over 350,000 immigrants back into immigration court, exacerbating the challenges of an already overburdened immigration court system.
August 1, 2017
This Practice Advisory addresses some of the legal issues that may arise when noncitizens in removal proceedings seek to suppress evidence unlawfully obtained by Customs and Border Protection officers.
February 13, 2017
This Practice Advisory provides a broad overview of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), including how to make a FOIA request and how to appeal an inadequate response. It discusses the...
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.
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.
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).
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.

April 29, 2013
This Practice Advisory examines how the courts and the agencies apply the fugitive disentitlement doctrine which arises in the immigration context when courts of appeals use the doctrine to dismiss petitions for review and when government agencies invoke the doctrine to deny FOIA requests. This Practice Advisory examines how the courts and the agencies apply the doctrine in these contexts.
December 21, 2012
This Practice Advisory contains practical and legal suggestions for individuals seeking to return to the United States after they have prevailed on a petition for review or an administrative motion to reopen or reconsider to the immigration court or Board of Immigration Appeals.
June 12, 2012
This Practice Advisory discusses Dent v. Holder, requiring the government to turn over copies of documents in an A-file where removability is contested, and offers strategies for making document requests pursuant to the INA and due process.
April 29, 2011

This Practice Advisory discusses the procedures and requirements for filing a petition for rehearing, rehearing en banc or hearing en banc in the court of appeals.

September 16, 2020

The Trump administration’s justification for ending administrative closure is on thin ice. A new report casts doubt on key arguments presented in a proposed regulation that would end the practice...

August 4, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread throughout the United States, immigration courts around the country remain in turmoil. The Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”) initially...

June 9, 2020

With 1.2 million cases pending in immigration court, transparency into how the courts are run is more important than ever. Unlike traditional courts where records are public, the only way to get...

May 28, 2020

The Board of Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) hiring process for immigration appellate judges was recently revealed. Now, the integrity of the immigration court system has never been more in question....

May 12, 2020

The U.S. government rejects an immigrant’s entire application for a visa or immigration benefit over a single blank field on a form. Applications can be rejected if a box is left unchecked or has...

April 1, 2020

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads and entire states go into quarantine, immigrants and their attorneys are still being forced to gather in cramped immigration courtrooms inside detention...

March 17, 2020

The Trump administration has steadily implemented initiatives to restructure the immigration court system without providing much information to the public. The lack of government transparency...

January 30, 2020

A congressional oversight committee held a hearing this week on the need for immigration court reform and the systemic due process challenges within the immigration court system. The House...

January 17, 2020

Asylum seekers subject to the Migrant Protection Protocols—or the “Remain in Mexico” program—in Laredo and Brownsville, Texas attend their court hearings in tents known as “port courts.” The...

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...

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.
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.
March 19, 2020
The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court to compel the Department of Justice’s Office of Information Policy to release records about the Executive Office for Immigration Review’s hiring procedures for appellate immigration judges and Board of Immigration Appeals Members. The lawsuit seeks to understand current hiring procedures for the BIA—the highest administrative body for interpreting and applying immigration laws—after reports came to light of anti-immigrant bias in the hiring process.
July 22, 2019
A federal appeals court ruled that asylum seekers must continue to receive bond hearings while the court considers the Trump administration’s appeal to deny bond hearings with procedural protections to asylum seekers.
July 22, 2019
Expanding expedited removal in this manner will create a 'show me your papers' regime of immigration enforcement where individuals—including any U.S. citizens they encounter—will be forced to prove they should not be deported. The American Immigration Council will not stand by idly as the Trump administration continues its unlawful attacks on our communities. We will see the Trump administration in court
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.
May 2, 2019
The American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and The American Civil Liberties Union, filed a proposed amended complaint in federal court today in order to challenge the Trump administration’s new policy that categorically denies bond hearings to asylum seekers. The policy, announced April 16 by Attorney General William Barr, targets asylum seekers whom immigration officers previously determined have a “credible fear” of persecution or torture if returned to the places they fled.
April 16, 2019
In a decision today, Attorney General William Barr ruled that individuals with valid protection asylum claims who entered between ports of entry no longer are eligible for release on bond by an immigration judge. The decision could result in the unnecessary detention of thousands more individuals each year, despite the enormous financial and human costs. With the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and the ACLU, the American Immigration Council intends to challenge the new decision.
April 5, 2019
In a groundbreaking decision, a federal judge in Seattle dealt a blow to the government’s campaign to deter and obstruct asylum seekers applying for protection in the United States. Judge Marsha Pechman ordered the government to provide certain individuals with bona fide asylum claims either a bond hearing before an immigration judge within seven days of their request or to release them from detention.
January 8, 2021

This article is part of the Moving Forward on Immigration series that explores the future of immigration in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.  The backbone of a functioning justice...

December 24, 2020
The American Immigration Council, the National Immigration Law Center and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s new rule that drastically increases fees across-the-board in immigration proceedings.
The Council filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s rule that would drastically increase fees across-the-board in high-stakes immigration proceedings.
December 17, 2020
Judge William H. Orrick granted summary judgment in favor of two nationwide classes suing DHS, USCIS, and ICE for failing to timely produce the class members’ immigration files (A-Files). The court ordered the agencies to clear their backlogs by responding to the more than 40,000 thousand cases outstanding within 60 days.
December 3, 2020

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) has proposed two rules that would significantly decrease the due process rights of people in immigration court. Both rules would restrict judges...

Public information about the location and expansion of these courts and centers is critically important.
October 30, 2020
A lawsuit filed against the EOIR—which oversees immigration courts—and the GSA seeks information on the expansion and creation of immigration adjudication centers, which were established as part of EOIR’s Strategic Caseload Reduction plan designed to accelerate removal proceedings at the expense of due process.
October 29, 2020

Over 60,000 people at the southern border have been forced to return to Mexico under the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the “Remain in Mexico” program. As...

October 28, 2020

Once a year, National Pro Bono Week celebrates the pro bono work of lawyers, paralegals, and law students. Pro bono legal services—which come at no cost—are integral for many people otherwise left...

October 13, 2020

At a time when tensions over race in the United States are high, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in an October 8 memo that it will cancel all diversity and inclusion trainings for...

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