Due Process and the Courts

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, the immigration system has failed to provide noncitizens with a system of justice that lives up to this standard. Learn about ways in which the immigration system could ensure that all noncitizens have a fair day in court.  

Recent Features

All Due Process and the Courts Content

Publication Date: 
January 21, 2014
The American Immigration Council and National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) are seeking to preserve federal court review of damages actions brought by noncitizens for abuse of authority by immigration agents.
Publication Date: 
January 3, 2014
Long used in criminal trials, motions to suppress can lead to the exclusion of evidence obtained by the government in violation of the Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, or related provisions of federal law. While the immediate purpose of filing a motion to suppress is to prevent the government from meeting its burden of proof, challenges to unlawfully obtained evidence can also deter future violations by law enforcement officers and thereby protect the rights of other noncitizens. The Supreme Court held in INS v. Lopez-Mendoza, 468 U.S. 1032 (1984), that motions to suppress evidence under the Fourth Amendment in immigration proceedings should be granted only for “egregious” violations or if violations became “widespread.” Despite this stringent standard, noncitizens have prevailed in many cases on motions to suppress.
Publication Date: 
November 29, 2013
At issue in the case is whether the Constitution and the immigration laws allow an immigration judge to enter a removal order without considering whether removal would be a disproportionate penalty under the circumstances. The amicus brief by the Council and the Post-Deportation Human Rights Project tells the stories of five individuals who either already have or soon will face the extreme penalty of deportation and a permanent reentry bar for minor or nonviolent crimes committed years earlier. The men and women featured in the brief share many attributes: all were lawful permanent residents; all established significant ties to this country; all left (or will leave) behind U.S. citizen family members; all committed nonviolent crimes; all have demonstrated rehabilitation; and none was afforded the opportunity to explain to the immigration judge why forcible removal from the country was unjustified under the circumstances. The brief throws into stark relief the real life human consequences of stripping judges of the ability to consider the totality of the circumstances before entering an order of removal.
Publication Date: 
October 4, 2013
The Council, along with the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG), is seeking to preserve federal court review of damages actions brought by noncitizens for abuse of authority by immigration agents. In actions brought under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), the government routinely moves to dismiss these cases on a variety of jurisdictional grounds, including by arguing that INA § 242(g) bars the court’s review of damages claims in any case involving removal procedures, and that a remedy under Bivens is not available in immigration-related actions. In essence, the government is attempting to deprive those who have been harmed by immigration agents of any remedy in federal court.
The American Immigration Council and co-counsel Public Citizen filed a lawsuit on behalf of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) seeking information about complaints alleging immigration judge misconduct.
Publication Date: 
January 4, 2013
The American Immigration Council, working with the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, has repeatedly challenged the “departure bar,” a regulation that precludes noncitizens from filing a motion to reopen or reconsider a removal case after they have left the United States. The departure bar not only precludes reopening or reconsideration based on new evidence or arguments that may affect the outcome of a case, but also deprives immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals of authority to adjudicate motions to remedy deportations wrongfully executed, whether intentionally or inadvertently, by DHS. We argue that the regulation conflicts with the statutory right to pursue reopening and, as interpreted by the government, is an impermissible restriction of congressionally granted authority to adjudicate immigration cases.
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.
July 1, 2020

On June 30, a federal judge in the District of Columbia struck down the Trump administration’s asylum transit ban, ending a sweeping policy that had shut down asylum for most people entering the...

June 25, 2020

The Supreme Court ruled on June 25 that certain asylum seekers forced through a fast-track deportation process at the U.S. border, called “expedited removal,” cannot challenge their deportations...

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...

June 4, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court found on Monday that federal courts have the authority to review certain claims from people who are seeking protection from torture. The case, Nasrallah v. Barr, is about...

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...

May 4, 2020

A free phone call can mean the difference between a fair day in court and being deported to harm—or worse—for individuals held in immigration detention centers. Immigrants may not be able to meet...

April 24, 2020

In a 5-4 decision on April 23, the U.S. Supreme Court expanded the types of criminal offenses that bar green card holders from seeking a form of relief from deportation. The case, Barton v. Barr,...

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...

December 3, 2018
The American Immigration Council and other immigrant rights organizations filed a legal brief on Friday that explains why President Donald Trump’s designation of Matthew G. Whitaker as acting attorney general is unlawful. As a result, the brief asserts, Whitaker lacks the authority to decide a critical immigration case.
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.
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.
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.
May 17, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions unilaterally removed immigration judges’ general authority to administratively close cases. Ending the use of administrative closure will have far-reaching consequences for those in removal proceedings, including adding tens of thousands of cases to an already over-burdened immigration court system.
April 25, 2018
Citing pushback from congressional leaders, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Executive Office for Immigration Review, part of the Department of Justice, will continue the Legal Orientation Program.
April 23, 2018
In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Council received a partially redacted report written by Booz Allen Hamilton and commissioned by the Executive Office for Immigration Review. The comprehensive report investigated a range of immigration court issues including judicial performance reviews, Legal Orientation Programs, and procedural mechanisms, such as administrative closure, that can be used to streamline caseloads.
April 11, 2018
The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), part of the Department of Justice (DOJ), announced its intention to cancel the Legal Orientation Program (LOP) despite its immensely positive impact on judicial efficiency and fundamental fairness, and Congress’ express instruction to continue such programming, along with the provision of funding in the fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill, recently signed by the president.
April 3, 2018
The Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), part of the Department of Justice (DOJ), has instituted strict quotas as part of immigration judges' individual performance evaluations, a shift that strips away the independence held by judges who are making high stakes decisions about whether a person will be deported.
March 29, 2018
A federal district court judge in Washington State ruled today that the federal government’s failure to notify asylum seekers that they must apply for asylum within one year of arriving in the United States violated their right to due process, and ordered the government to provide such notice.
Publication Date: 
April 25, 2022

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...

April 21, 2022

More than two years after visiting the Trump administration’s “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP) tent courts in Laredo, Texas, I returned to see how they had changed under the Biden...

This Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeks information about the immigration courts' implementation of the Dent v. Holder decision and how ICE is complying.
April 7, 2022

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a long-awaited memo on Sunday to guide ICE attorneys on exercising their prosecutorial discretion in immigration court. Authored by ICE’s...

Publication Date: 
March 28, 2022
In the amicus brief filed with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the Council argues that the exclusionary rule in criminal proceedings should apply to evidence related to identity, because it is an essential deterrent to ICE’s widespread racially discriminatory enforcement practices.
This Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeks to uncover information about the hiring process for the position of Assistant Chief Immigration Judge (ACIJ) and the influence of these judges over the immigration courts.
March 9, 2022

President Biden has nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer on the United States Supreme Court. With nearly a decade as a federal judge, Judge Jackson’s...

February 15, 2022

Immigrants and their representatives will gain access to decisions of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) that were not publicly available. As a result of a settlement of a lawsuit filed by the...

February 3, 2022

Immigration courts will soon take a big step into the digital age. On February 11, 2022, immigration attorneys, accredited representatives, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) lawyers, will...

January 20, 2022

When the Biden administration announced a new “dedicated docket” in immigration court for families seeking asylum at the border, many advocates raised concerns that the docket would forgo due...

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