Border Enforcement

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.  

Recent Features

All Border Enforcement Content

May 1, 2018
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-...
March 7, 2018
Enforcement of U.S. immigration laws has historically been guided by policies that emphasize prioritization. However, this practice has largely been abandoned since the inauguration of President...
September 19, 2017
Mexican migrants suffer a host of violations, abuses, and ill treatment while in the custody of U.S. immigration authorities.
August 2, 2017
This report raises more concerns about misconduct throughout Border Patrol sectors and shows Customs and Border Patrol has made little progress in its efforts to improve accountability.
April 24, 2017

The last time the Border Patrol received a large infusion of money to hire thousands of new agents, cases of corruption and misconduct spiked in the agency. New hires were not sufficiently vetted...

February 27, 2017
The provisions in the order pose serious concerns for the protection and due process rights of those currently residing in the United States, communities along the U.S-Mexico border, and vulnerable...
February 3, 2017
Expedited removal is a process by which low-level immigration officers can quickly deport certain noncitizens who are undocumented or have committed fraud or misrepresentation.
January 25, 2017
The fact is that building a fortified and impenetrable wall between the United States and Mexico is unnecessary, complicated, ineffective, expensive, and would create a host of additional problems.
January 25, 2017
Since the last major overhaul of the U.S. immigration system in 1986, the federal government has spent an estimated $263 billion on immigration enforcement.
December 21, 2016
Too often, some or all of a detainee’s belongings are lost, destroyed, or stolen by the immigration-enforcement agents entrusted with their care.
May 22, 2018

The American Immigration Council submitted a written statement to the House Homeland Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security for a May 22, 2018 hearing on “Stopping the Daily Border Caravan:...

The requests ask for policies, guidelines, or procedures followed or used by the governmental agencies to address the processing and treatment of families at the U.S.-Mexico border and specifically, the separation of adult family members from minor children and the criminal prosecution of adult family members.
December 11, 2017
The practice of dividing families raises Constitutional due process concerns under the Fifth Amendment, violates United States’ obligations under international law, and contravenes voluminous evidence maintaining that family separation is not in the best interest of the child.

For years, U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents have injected themselves into routine, local emergency services and law enforcement, often under the guise of providing translation services.  Despite...

Asylum seekers are being illegally turned away by Customs and Border Protection officers. We're suing.
This case stems from Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) decision to bar Caroline Perris, a full-time legal assistant with the Dilley Pro Bono Project (DPBP), from entering the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas.
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.
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.
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.
July 19, 2017
This practice advisory will address the Supreme Court’s Travel Ban decision and detail how DOS and DHS are implementing those portions of EO-2 that are no longer enjoined.
February 21, 2017

This Practice Advisory addresses the coming expansion of expedited removal, who likely will be impacted, and possible ways to challenge an expedited removal order. The National Immigration Project...

November 1, 2015
This Practice Advisory discusses the impact of an interim rule repealing two former regulations which barred all “arriving aliens” from adjusting status if they are in removal proceedings. This Advisory provides a brief history leading to the rule, defines key terms, discusses the impact of the rule, and suggests steps that a parolee can take to benefit from the rule.
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.
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.
April 29, 2013
A person who has been removed and unlawfully reenters the United States may be subject to reinstatement of removal under INA § 241(a)(5). This Practice Advisory provides an overview of the reinstatement statute and implementing regulations. It also addresses where to obtain federal court review of reinstatement orders and which arguments are available to challenge the legality of reinstatement orders in federal court, including challenges to the underlying removal order.
May 15, 2018

Migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization frequently make a life-threatening journey, crossing the desert often with limited supplies of food and water. The Border...

May 11, 2018

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may soon be checking the immigration status of all potential sponsors of children who arrive unaccompanied at the U.S border, as well as any adult members...

May 8, 2018

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced they will be stepping up prosecutions of individuals along the southern border. There is much folly in deciding...

May 1, 2018

  The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it filed criminal charges on Tuesday to prosecute some migrants who recently crossed the border and were reportedly once a part of the caravan. The vast...

April 30, 2018

Recent reports from the San Ysidro Port of Entry in Tijuana, Mexico indicate that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers have refused entry to a caravan of up to 200 migrant men, women, and...

April 24, 2018

For years, immigration enforcement officials prioritized recent border-crossers over long-time residents with U.S.-born children, clean criminal records, or other evidence of roots in the United...

April 20, 2018

The United States has historically been viewed as a nation that welcomes refugees fleeing from violence and persecution in their home countries. Yet, the Trump administration recently reiterated...

April 17, 2018

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)—the Border Patrol in particular—has a reputation for repeatedly and systematically violating the rights of immigrants and U.S. citizens alike. Border...

April 10, 2018

Undocumented immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border increasingly consist of asylum seekers fleeing record levels of violence in Central America. But the Trump administration’s response to this...

April 6, 2018

President Trump first announced via tweet—and later a signed proclamation—that he plans to send the National Guard to the nation’s southern border. And yet, at the same time, he acknowledged that...

May 7, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting Director Thomas Homan announced today that the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security will be stepping up prosecutions of individuals along the southern border—likely resulting in the criminalization of asylum seekers and more family separation.
December 11, 2017
A complaint on behalf of family members who have been forcibly separated while in custody at the southern border of the United States was filed with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General and Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
October 8, 2017
The White House released its long anticipated, "Immigration Principles and Policies," which lay out many of the already-stated aspirations of the Trump administration on immigration. The laundry list represents a wholesale attack on immigration and immigrants. It includes not only limits on immigration generally, but enables mass deportations and envisions bypassing necessary procedures that protect children and asylum seekers.
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.
July 12, 2017

Washington D.C. - Today an immigrant rights group and several asylum seekers filed a class action lawsuit against officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S.

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.
February 17, 2017
The memo calls for the expansion of detentions and deportations, the hiring of more Border Patrol agents, the use of State National Guards, the building of a border wall, and the creation of new barriers for asylum seekers, among other provisions.
December 21, 2016
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), represented by the American Immigration Council and Foley & Lardner LLP, filed a lawsuit to compel U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and to request release of the CBP Officer's Reference Tool (ORT).
November 18, 2016
A federal district court found that U.S. Customs and Border Protection is violating the constitutional rights of people detained in holding facilities in Arizona and ordered the government to take steps to improve conditions in these facilities, known as hieleras.
May 22, 2018

The American Immigration Council submitted a written statement to the House Homeland Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security for a May 22, 2018 hearing on “Stopping the Daily Border Caravan:...

May 15, 2018

Migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization frequently make a life-threatening journey, crossing the desert often with limited supplies of food and water. The Border...

May 11, 2018

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may soon be checking the immigration status of all potential sponsors of children who arrive unaccompanied at the U.S border, as well as any adult members...

May 8, 2018

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced they will be stepping up prosecutions of individuals along the southern border. There is much folly in deciding...

May 7, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting Director Thomas Homan announced today that the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security will be stepping up prosecutions of individuals along the southern border—likely resulting in the criminalization of asylum seekers and more family separation.
May 1, 2018

  The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it filed criminal charges on Tuesday to prosecute some migrants who recently crossed the border and were reportedly once a part of the caravan. The vast...

May 1, 2018
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-...
April 30, 2018

Recent reports from the San Ysidro Port of Entry in Tijuana, Mexico indicate that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers have refused entry to a caravan of up to 200 migrant men, women, and...

April 24, 2018

For years, immigration enforcement officials prioritized recent border-crossers over long-time residents with U.S.-born children, clean criminal records, or other evidence of roots in the United...

April 20, 2018

The United States has historically been viewed as a nation that welcomes refugees fleeing from violence and persecution in their home countries. Yet, the Trump administration recently reiterated...

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