Enforcement

The enforcement of immigration laws is a complex and hotly-debated topic. Learn more about the costs of immigration enforcement and the ways in which the U.S. can enforce our immigration laws humanely and in a manner that ensures due process.

Recent Features

All Enforcement Content

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.
December 16, 2016
This fact sheet provides an overview of “aggravated felonies” under federal immigration law and the immigration consequences of being convicted of an “aggravated felony.”
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.
May 18, 2016
First-hand accounts from Central American women and their family members reveal the dangerous and bleak circumstances of life these women and their children faced upon return to their home countries...
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...

February 1, 2016
The unprecedented levels of crime and violence that have overwhelmed the Northern Triangle countries in recent years have produced a refugee situation for those directly in the line of fire, making...
December 17, 2015
These accounts reveal the markedly dehumanizing conditions to which these women were subjected while in Border Patrol custody.
November 1, 2015
This examination of the Criminal Alien Program's outcomes from fiscal years 2010 to 2013 offers important insights into CAP’s operations over time and its potential impact on communities moving...
October 10, 2015
The term “sanctuary city” is often used incorrectly to describe trust acts or community policing policies that limit entanglement between local police and federal immigration authorities. Here are...
January 13, 2017
On January 13, 2017 a coalition of immigrant and civil rights groups filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s...
October 25, 2016
The American Immigration Council, in collaboration with the American Immigration Law Association, filed an amicus brief in the case Jennings v. Rodriguez, calling for the Court to overturn Demore v. Kim and end mandatory detention.
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.
On October 21, 2014, the American Immigration Council, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, with co-counsel, the National Immigration Law Center and Jenner & Block LLP, filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act to compel the release of government documents regarding the use of the expedited removal process against families with children, including those detained by DHS in Artesia, New Mexico. The suit was filed in the federal district court for the Southern District of New York.
On August 22, 2014, the American Immigration Council, in collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, the National Immigration Law Center, Van Der Hout Brigagliano & Nightingale LLP, and Jenner & Block, filed this lawsuit in the federal district court for the District of Columbia. The case was a systemic challenge to the policies denying a fair deportation process to mothers and children detained in the Artesia Family Residential Center who had fled extreme violence, death threats, rape, and persecution in Central America and come to the United States seeking safety.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
March 18, 2015
This Practice Advisory, updated following the issuance of Secretary Johnson’s November 20, 2014 memorandum on Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants, explains what prosecutorial discretion is, who has authority to exercise it, and how it is exercised most often in immigration cases. It also suggests ways that attorneys can influence the favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion by ICE, CBP and USCIS officers.
January 26, 2015
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.
November 13, 2013
This Practice Advisory addresses some of the factual scenarios and legal issues that may arise when seeking to suppress evidence unlawfully obtained at or near the border. This Practice Advisory supplements a prior American Immigration Council Practice Advisory, Motions to Suppress in Removal Proceedings: A General Overview, which has been updated to address certain strategic considerations concerning motions to suppress, including the advisability and timing of filing a concurrent request for prosecutorial discretion or a lawsuit for damages.
August 15, 2013
This Practice Advisory deals primarily with Fourth Amendment limitations on state and local immigration enforcement efforts and also briefly addresses Fifth Amendment violations that may arise from the same types of encounters with state and local officers. It also discusses some of the legal issues that may arise when noncitizens in removal proceedings move to suppress evidence obtained as a result of a constitutional violation by such officers.
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.
June 1, 2008

This Practice Advisory offers a short introduction to habeas corpus, addressing when and how a petitioner may file a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the immigration context.

January 13, 2017

On January 12, the White House announced the end of the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy towards Cuban migrants. Effective immediately, Cubans who attempt to enter the U.S. unauthorized will be treated...

January 12, 2017

Senator Jeff Sessions, who has been nominated to be Attorney General by President-elect Donald Trump, endured a 10-and-a-half-hour confirmation hearing this week where he answered questions on a...

January 11, 2017

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee held a hearing on the nomination of General John Kelly for the position of Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) this...

January 10, 2017

President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to build a wall along the U.S-Mexico border took a step forward last week as Congressional Republicans discussed ways to get funding for the structure through...

January 9, 2017

When President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in later this month, for the first time in a decade, the Republican Party will have control of the House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, and the...

January 4, 2017

As the Obama Administration comes to an end and its legacy on immigration is solidified, one of the defining characteristics of the President’s eight years in office will be how he enforced...

January 3, 2017

Since the election, states and localities have begun to think creatively about how to push back against President-elect Donald Trump’s threats to undermine current enforcement priorities and...

December 22, 2016

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has officially ended a Bush-Era registry created after 9/11 to track men from predominantly Muslim countries. The registry known as the National Security...

December 21, 2016

Each year, tens of thousands of individuals are deported from the United States to Mexico without their personal belongings—including their identifications, money, and cell phones, among other...

December 16, 2016

Earlier this month, President-elect Donald Trump selected retired General John Kelly to be his nominee for Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). There is not much in the record...

December 22, 2016
This registry, known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), was shown to be ineffective and had not been used for years.
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.
November 18, 2016
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions will be nominated to serve as Attorney General in President-Elect Trump’s new administration. The following is a statement from Beth Werlin, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council.
October 5, 2016
In accordance with a settlement reached by the parties, a federal district court dismissed a class action lawsuit which challenged U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) nationwide practice of failing to timely respond to requests for case information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
August 18, 2016
Today, groups made public damning evidence, including expert testimony and video stills illustrating the deplorable and unconstitutional conditions detained individuals are subjected to in Border Patrol custody in the agency’s Tucson Sector.
July 20, 2016
Ten mothers came forward to lodge formal complaints about the substandard medical care they and their children received while detained by the Department of Homeland of Security.
July 20, 2016

Washington, DC – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Immigration Council welcome plans announced by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for the release

July 20, 2016
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson released a statement on plans to make “substantial changes” to the agency’s family detention policies. The following is a statement, in response, from Ben Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council.
July 19, 2016
A class action lawsuit was filed by three immigration attorneys and eleven noncitizens challenging U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s nationwide practice of failing to timely respond to requests for case information under the Freedom of Information Act.
January 13, 2017

On January 12, the White House announced the end of the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy towards Cuban migrants. Effective immediately, Cubans who attempt to enter the U.S. unauthorized will be treated...

January 13, 2017
On January 13, 2017 a coalition of immigrant and civil rights groups filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s...
January 12, 2017

Senator Jeff Sessions, who has been nominated to be Attorney General by President-elect Donald Trump, endured a 10-and-a-half-hour confirmation hearing this week where he answered questions on a...

January 11, 2017

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee held a hearing on the nomination of General John Kelly for the position of Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) this...

January 10, 2017

President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to build a wall along the U.S-Mexico border took a step forward last week as Congressional Republicans discussed ways to get funding for the structure through...

January 9, 2017

When President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in later this month, for the first time in a decade, the Republican Party will have control of the House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, and the...

January 4, 2017

As the Obama Administration comes to an end and its legacy on immigration is solidified, one of the defining characteristics of the President’s eight years in office will be how he enforced...

January 3, 2017

Since the election, states and localities have begun to think creatively about how to push back against President-elect Donald Trump’s threats to undermine current enforcement priorities and...

December 22, 2016

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has officially ended a Bush-Era registry created after 9/11 to track men from predominantly Muslim countries. The registry known as the National Security...

December 22, 2016
This registry, known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), was shown to be ineffective and had not been used for years.

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