Immigration Courts

The immigration laws and regulations provide some avenues to apply for lawful status from within the U.S. or to seek relief from deportation.  The eligibility requirements for these benefits and relief can be stringent, and the immigration agencies often adopt overly restrictive interpretations of the requirements.  Learn about advocacy and litigation that has been and can be undertaken to ensure that noncitizens have a fair chance to apply for the benefits and relief for which they are eligible.  

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All Immigration Courts Content

July 30, 2019
Comprehensive analyses of the government’s own data show that in the vast majority of situations, immigrants placed into removal proceedings appear for all of their court hearings.
July 17, 2019
The Institutional Hearing Program permits immigration judges to conduct removal proceedings for noncitizens serving criminal sentences in certain correctional facilities.
September 6, 2018
The Legal Orientation Program (LOP) offers legal education, as well as referrals for free and low-cost legal counsel, to noncitizens in immigration detention.
August 16, 2018
This report presents findings from the first empirical analysis of asylum adjudication in family detention. Drawing on government data from over 18,000 immigration court proceedings initiated between...
September 28, 2016
Immigrants in immigration court do not have a right to government-appointed counsel. The lack of legal representation has a profound impact on immigrants’ outcomes in removal proceedings.
June 17, 2016
Backlogs and delays benefit neither immigrants nor the government—keeping those with valid claims in limbo and often in detention, delaying removal of those without valid claims, and calling into...
May 16, 2016

Over the past few years, thousands of children—many fleeing horrific levels of violence in Central America—have arrived at the U.S. border in need of protection. Most children are placed in...

July 29, 2014
As the number of unaccompanied children arriving at the United States border has increased, some lawmakers have argued that children frequently fail to appear for proceedings and thus proposed...
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...
The Council filed a lawsuit to close the immigration courts and ensure due process.

The American Immigration Council filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) seeking information relating to the expansion and...

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:...

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...

April 22, 2020
This practice advisory discusses the standards of review that the Board of Immigration Appeals is required to employ when it reviews appeals of immigration judge decisions.
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.
July 3, 2019
Immigration courts must continue to provide bond hearings to individuals fleeing persecution who enter the United States without inspection, are placed in expedited removal proceedings, and pass their credible fear interviews.
February 27, 2019
This Practice Advisory provides legal and procedural arguments and strategies for attorneys representing noncitizens.
September 10, 2018
This Practice Advisory provides a practitioner-focused overview of motions to continue a case in removal proceedings, from the basics of making the motion to advanced issues of jurisdictional bars to appellate review of continuances.
February 7, 2018

This practice advisory provides a basic overview of motions to reopen removal orders that are filed with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which consists of immigration courts...

December 20, 2017
This practice advisory describes USCIS’ position and offers practical suggestions for filing asylum applications that USCIS is likely to reject for lack of jurisdiction.
December 20, 2017
This Practice Advisory addresses when the voluntary departure period runs and the events that cause automatic termination of a voluntary departure order; the serious consequences that result from failing to depart; and when these consequences do not apply.
August 1, 2017
This Practice Advisory provides a general overview of motions to suppress, a tool used to prevent the introduction of evidence obtained by federal immigration officers in violation of the Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, and related provisions of federal law.
August 1, 2017
This Practice Advisory discusses some of the legal issues that may arise when noncitizens in removal proceedings move to suppress evidence obtained through constitutional violations by state and local officers seeking to enforce immigration law.
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...

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 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...

May 27, 2020
The American Immigration Council's latest report examines major changes to the U.S. immigration system in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unique challenges the pandemic has created for noncitizens and government agencies.
May 4, 2020
The American Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Council released documents obtained via Freedom of Information Act litigation revealing the Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review’s updated hiring plan for immigration judges and appellate immigration judges.
April 28, 2020
Today’s Court decision denying the emergency temporary restraining order in NIPNLG, et al., v. EOIR, et al., is deeply disappointing. This lawsuit was brought against the Executive Office for Immigration Review and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to protect the health of immigration attorneys, immigrants, and the public from the impact of dangerous and unconstitutional policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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.
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 27, 2020
The American Immigration Council's latest report examines major changes to the U.S. immigration system in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unique challenges the pandemic has created for noncitizens and government agencies.
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...

May 4, 2020
The American Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Council released documents obtained via Freedom of Information Act litigation revealing the Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review’s updated hiring plan for immigration judges and appellate immigration judges.
April 28, 2020
Today’s Court decision denying the emergency temporary restraining order in NIPNLG, et al., v. EOIR, et al., is deeply disappointing. This lawsuit was brought against the Executive Office for Immigration Review and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to protect the health of immigration attorneys, immigrants, and the public from the impact of dangerous and unconstitutional policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
April 22, 2020
This practice advisory discusses the standards of review that the Board of Immigration Appeals is required to employ when it reviews appeals of immigration judge decisions.
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.
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...

The Council filed a lawsuit to close the immigration courts and ensure due process.

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