Detention

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 Detention Content

August 31, 2016
This report examines what happens when “family detention” does not actually keep loved ones together and profiles the experiences of five asylum-seeking families who are divided by detention.
August 18, 2016
This report reveals that individuals are frequently held for days and sometimes even months in holding cells in Border Patrol sectors along the U.S.’ southwest border.
December 17, 2015
These accounts reveal the dehumanizing conditions to which these women were subjected while in Border Patrol custody.
July 22, 2015

For decades, the U.S. refugee protection system has been a symbol of the nation’s generosity and openness to the world’s persecuted. Yet since Congress’ enactment of the Illegal Immigration Reform...

June 10, 2015

Each year, the Border Patrol, a division of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), holds hundreds of thousands of people in detention facilities near the southern border that are...

October 6, 2011
One of the ugliest myths in the immigration debate is that immigrants are more likely to commit crime or pose a danger to society. Although studies repeatedly have shown that immigrants are less...
July 6, 2011
One of the ugliest myths in the immigration debate involves the relationship between immigrants and crime. While studies repeatedly have shown that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than...
October 1, 2004
Over a thousand noncitizens face indefinite detention in the United States on the basis of a meaningless legal technicality.
January 7, 2019

The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) submitted a joint comment opposing the “Interim Final Rule: Aliens Subject to a Bar on Entry Under...

November 6, 2018
The Trump administration proposed new regulations undermining the 1997 Flores settlement agreement. If the proposed regulations are finalized, they would weaken protections for children and place them at greater risk of trauma and mistreatment.
September 18, 2018

The American Immigration Council and American Immigration Lawyers Association submitted a written statement to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and...

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.
August 23, 2018

The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy led to not only to the forcible separation of thousands of children from their parents, but the extreme duress and coercion of...

July 31, 2018
The American Immigration Council submitted a written statement to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary for a July 31, 2018 hearing on “Oversight of Immigration Enforcement and Family Reunification Efforts.”
The American Immigration Council filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with ICE and CBP on October 13, 2017, seeking data on enforcement actions and outcomes since January 2016. With this data, the Council will be able to assess who is being targeted for removal and what the consequences are of the current enforcement framework.
This lawsuit seeks to compel government agencies to produce documents regarding family separation policies.
June 4, 2018

The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association filed an administrative complaint with the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL), the Office of the...

The requests ask for policies, guidelines, or procedures followed or used by immigration enforcement regarding the treatment of pregnant individuals in custody and any system used to track and monitor pregnant detainees.
October 22, 2019

The consequences of record-breaking workplace immigration raids are still overwhelming the legal system in southern Mississippi. After the Trump administration repeatedly threatened mass raids...

October 16, 2019

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law on Friday that will phase out private prisons—including federal immigration detention centers—throughout the state. The new law, AB 32,...

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 10, 2019

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has arrested millions of people based on unreliable electronic databases. In a recent court decision with nationwide impact, a federal judge in...

October 7, 2019

Nebane Abienwi, a 37-year-old man who had recently fled war-torn Cameroon, died in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody on Tuesday. His passing—the first of the new fiscal year...

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 26, 2019

Immigration enforcement may be a federal responsibility, but state governments have a great deal of power over the conditions under which immigrants are detained. At a time when over-crowded...

September 20, 2019

Five mothers and their children sued the U.S. government on Thursday for forcibly separating them in 2018. The five families are among the thousands of parents and young children who were split...

September 4, 2019

Border Patrol agents placed a detained 9-year-old girl with a kidney disease at high risk of a urinary tract infection by not allowing her to shower or change her underwear for five days. Agents...

August 30, 2019

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently notified Congress of its intent to pull $271 million dollars from FEMA, the Coast Guard, and TSA for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)....

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.
September 6, 2018
The Trump administration proposed new regulations that could lead to the indefinite detention—and needless suffering—of asylum-seeking children.
August 23, 2018
The complaint points to numerous examples, including that of Mrs. D.P., who was separated from her 9-year-old daughter for 47 days as a result of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' "zero-tolerance" border policy.
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.
July 26, 2018
"The government’s failure to comply with the court order to reunify the thousands of separated children and parents confirms the administration’s utter disregard for the humane and fair treatment of families coming to our country in search of protection."
July 9, 2018
Leaders of several immigrant and human rights organizations were invited for the first time under the Trump administration to meet with Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.
June 27, 2018
The lawsuit asks the court to compel the agencies to produce family separation documents in response to FOIA requests submitted in April.
June 20, 2018
President Donald Trump signed an executive order today to try to stem criticism of his family separation policy. He has offered an unacceptable alternative: imprisoning mothers and fathers with their children.
June 4, 2018
The complaint, filed on behalf of individuals who are and were detained at the Aurora facility, highlights the ways in which weak, insufficient medical practices threaten the health and well-being of detainees and directly impact their ability to pursue their immigration and asylum claims.
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.
January 10, 2020
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-...
January 9, 2020

The government closed out the decade with yet another person’s death in immigration detention. Fiscal year 2019 was one of the most fatal years on the books for immigrants held in the custody of...

January 2, 2020
This fact sheet describes the populations, duration, and conditions for noncitizens detained in the United States by department.
December 16, 2019

A recent federal court ruling in California could allow hundreds of thousands of immigrants currently and previously detained by private prison companies to demand compensation and damages for...

December 11, 2019
As U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has expanded immigration capacity across the country in recent years, the number of people held in its facilities with actual criminal records...
December 10, 2019
The rate at which U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained pregnant women increased 52% during the first two years of the Trump administration, according to a Government Accountability...
December 2, 2019

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently published an update to its National Detention Standards (NDS), which govern the treatment of people held in facilities that rent some of...

November 22, 2019
Deportations of parents and family members have serious consequences that affect children and extend to communities and the country as a whole.
October 22, 2019

The consequences of record-breaking workplace immigration raids are still overwhelming the legal system in southern Mississippi. After the Trump administration repeatedly threatened mass raids...

October 16, 2019

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law on Friday that will phase out private prisons—including federal immigration detention centers—throughout the state. The new law, AB 32,...

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