Enforcement

While updating our immigration system has been a slow process, over the last decade, there have been efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation and the DREAM Act. Other reform efforts include executive actions such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). Learn more about the ways America can upgrade its immigration system.

Recent Features

All Enforcement Content

Publication Date: 
April 17, 2012
In April, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in Arizona v. United States, a case addressing the legality of the Arizona immigration law known as SB 1070. According to the statement...
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April 17, 2012
In April 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released two long-awaited reports on the Secure Communities Program: Operations of United States...
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April 11, 2012
Discretion takes many forms throughout the immigration enforcement process. Every removal of a noncitizen from the United States, for example, reflects a series of complex choices which reflect...
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April 1, 2012
Proportionality is the notion that the severity of a sanction should not be excessive in relation to the gravity of an offense. The principle is ancient and nearly uncontestable, and its operation...
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February 23, 2012
As federal officers, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents may only exercise the authority granted under federal statutes and regulations. This fact sheet provides a snapshot of search, interrogation...
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February 16, 2012
What You Need to Know if Your State is Considering Anti-immigrant Legislation...
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February 6, 2012
By Michele Waslin The day that Alabama’s draconian anti-immigrant law...
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November 29, 2011
This paper describes the Secure Communities program, identifies concerns about the program’s design and implementation, and makes recommendations for the future of the program.
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November 29, 2011
The Secure Communities Program, which launched in March 2008, has been held out as a simplified model for state and local cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. This fact sheet lays out...
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November 9, 2011
Although key provisions of Alabama’s HB 56 are on hold while its constitutionality is being tested in the courts, evidence is mounting of the growing fiscal and economic impact of the new law. State...
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...

This lawsuit seeks to compel U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to release records relating to CBP’s complaint process and actions taken in response to complaints made to CBP concerning its agents and officers since January 1, 2012.
July 31, 2018
The statement shares our analysis and research regarding the nation's asylum system and the obligations of the U.S. government to asylum seekers, as well as our deep concern around the administration's family separation policies and increased prosecution of migrants.
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.”

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...

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.
In the year and a half since the FOIA request was filed, CBP largely failed to provide any records in response to the request. On June 11, 2018, the Council, represented by O’Melveny & Myers LLP, filed a lawsuit to compel DHS and CBP to comply with FOIA and to release additional records related to the 2016 request.
August 16, 2021

The Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the “Remain in Mexico” program, inflicted extreme harm on vulnerable people seeking asylum at the border beginning in...

August 13, 2021

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced this week a new policy designed to honor and protect vulnerable immigrants. The new policy addresses protections for survivors of violence...

August 10, 2021

A new Illinois law limiting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention is expected to effectively end detention in the state by next year. The law goes further than those that have...

August 6, 2021

A federal judge on Tuesday dealt an important blow to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s flawed plan to stop migrants from entering and traveling through Texas. Governor Abbott issued an executive order...

August 5, 2021

It is unquestionable that technology creates efficiencies. But efficiency should not come at the total expense of privacy. A new app from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) toes that line...

July 30, 2021

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) keeps making an inexcusable error: it has been deporting U.S. citizens by mistake. 70 potential U.S. citizens were deported between 2015 and 2020, a...

July 28, 2021

As the number of families coming to the border has increased from June to July, the Biden administration is beginning yet another crackdown. Late on July 26, the Department of Homeland Security (...

July 27, 2021

The state of Texas has started a concentrated effort to arrest immigrants who have recently crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. The immigrants are charged with criminal state offenses of trespassing...

July 15, 2021

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may soon have its first Senate-confirmed leader in nearly five years. On July 15, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee...

July 9, 2021

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will no longer detain most people who are pregnant, postpartum, or nursing, according to a new policy released on July 9. However, ICE did not commit...

July 30, 2019
A federal district court has rejected the government’s second attempt to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration's unlawful turnbacks of asylum seekers who present themselves at ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border – including its attempt to choke off asylum applications through a so-called “metering” process.
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 15, 2019
The Trump administration announced a new rule that would bar many individuals seeking protection in the United States from being able to apply for asylum. The American Immigration Council believes we should not be afraid to embrace our humanitarian obligations in a way that respects the rule of law.
July 1, 2019
A report on interior immigration enforcement by the American Immigration Council examines newly disclosed government data on the Trump administration’s aggressive enforcement agenda. The report, “Changing Patterns of Interior Immigration Enforcement in the United States, 2016–2018,” reveals that U.S. citizens and immigrant women have become increasingly vulnerable to immigration enforcement actions under the administration.
June 22, 2019
Newly obtained documents from the Department of Health and Human Services released today by immigrant rights groups and The Houston Chronicle show that migrant children continued to be separated from their parents at the border nearly one year after the end of the “zero tolerance” policy.
June 19, 2019
A class action lawsuit challenges the Department of Homeland Security and its component agencies’ nationwide practice of failing to timely respond to requests for immigration files under the Freedom of Information Act.
May 2, 2019
The American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and The American Civil Liberties Union, filed a proposed amended complaint in federal court today in order to challenge the Trump administration’s new policy that categorically denies bond hearings to asylum seekers. The policy, announced April 16 by Attorney General William Barr, targets asylum seekers whom immigration officers previously determined have a “credible fear” of persecution or torture if returned to the places they fled.
April 29, 2019
Newly released government records reveal that the Department of Homeland Security monitored protest preparations across the United States and internationally in June 2018, as communities organized to oppose the Trump administration’s separation of children and parents at the southern border. The discovery follows other recent revelations that the government has been secretly monitoring activists, journalists, and immigrant rights defenders.
April 5, 2019
In a groundbreaking decision, a federal judge in Seattle dealt a blow to the government’s campaign to deter and obstruct asylum seekers applying for protection in the United States. Judge Marsha Pechman ordered the government to provide certain individuals with bona fide asylum claims either a bond hearing before an immigration judge within seven days of their request or to release them from detention.
March 7, 2019
A federal district court in Seattle, Washington has certified two nationwide classes of detained asylum seekers who are challenging the government’s delays in providing asylum interviews and bond hearings.
February 14, 2022

The Omicron variant has spread through immigration detention like wildfire, with a record 14% of people in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody testing positive for COVID-19 as...

Publication Date: 
February 11, 2022
The American Immigration Council filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security's oversight bodies urging an investigation into a COVID-19 outbreak—including threats of retaliation...
February 9, 2022

A skyrocketing number of migrant teens from Central America are finding their way into the undocumented workforce of the United States. They are doing rigorous, grueling work often meant for...

Publication Date: 
February 9, 2022
The Council joined other organizations in calling for the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Offices of the Inspectors General to formally review the implementation...
This FOIA lawsuit seeks records about Border Patrol activities at the Sandusky Bay Station located in northern Ohio to improve the public’s understanding of CBP’s enforcement practices at northern U.S. borders, including cooperation with local law enforcement.
January 19, 2022
President Biden announced a welcoming and inclusive vision for immigration in a legislative proposal and a series of executive actions signed on his first day in office. But one year into Biden’s presidency, his promises on immigration remain unfulfilled.
January 14, 2022

New leaked photos of Border Patrol stations in Yuma, Arizona show Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) inhumane treatment of people apprehended at the border— revealing that years of overcrowded...

January 12, 2022

Written by Caroline Walters and Kate Melloy Goettel  This week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two related immigration cases. Each asks whether certain noncitizens are entitled to bond...

January 12, 2022
Immigration advocacy groups filed a FOIA lawsuit against ICE requesting ICE’s internal records on preapproval authorizations for enforcement actions against individuals who do not meet the criteria outlined in the Biden-Harris administration’s interim enforcement priorities.
January 11, 2022

As the border has become harder to cross over the last few years, smugglers have increasingly turned to the use of vehicles to smuggle migrants. But along with this rise has come an increase in...

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