How the Immigration System Works

The U.S. immigration system is complex and can be difficult to understand. These resources provide key data points, historical information, and background on hot topics in immigration. Learn the basics about immigration.

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November 1, 2017

Americans value diversity and family. That is why our immigration system generally reflects those values. The U.S. diversity visa lottery, which was enshrined into law in 1990, was created to...

September 14, 2017

Following through on a directive from President Trump made during his first week in office, the State Department on Monday invoked a rarely-used law to impose visa restrictions on Cambodia,...

August 9, 2017

An immigration judge ordered the immediate release of a three-year-old immigrant child and his mother from a detention center in rural Pennsylvania on Monday, stating that it was one of the most...

August 7, 2017

The recent deaths of ten migrants who suffocated in the back of a tractor trailer as they were allegedly being smuggled into the United States has brought renewed attention to the grave risks...

July 28, 2017

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a unanimous decision on Monday holding that Massachusetts court officers may not arrest and detain immigrants based solely on a detainer. Although...

July 12, 2017

Men, women, and children fleeing persecution, grave violence, and even death arrive daily at Ports of Entry (POE) all along the U.S.-Mexico border and present themselves to U.S. Customs and Border...

July 10, 2017

A recent story from ProPublica has revealed an internal February 2017 memorandum authored by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to its employees about the implementation of recent Executive...

June 27, 2017

Over the past two decades, much of the immigration policy debate has focused on issues related to immigration enforcement. In fact, many argue that “enforcement first”—the notion that we must...

June 12, 2017

After debate rocked the Texas State Capitol, Governor Greg Abbott signed the controversial Senate Bill 4 (SB4) in May, which purports to ban sanctuary city policies and gives local police the...

May 30, 2017

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials unveiled their newest “overstay” estimates—the number of people from other countries who remain in the United States after their visas expire—at a...

June 7, 2019

Applications for permanent residence and other immigration benefits are taking longer than ever to process. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency responsible for...

April 25, 2019

The White House issued a memo on Monday directing the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to provide recommendations to reduce visa overstays. The recommendations, which are expected within...

March 27, 2019

When the U.S. government orders that an immigrant in its custody must be deported, the person isn’t supposed to remain incarcerated for long. Yet the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) often...

March 15, 2019

Many of the country’s top immigration agencies operate in secret. This lack of transparency in how immigration laws are implemented, administered, and enforced has the potential to devastate the...

February 6, 2019

Speaking before Congress and the nation Tuesday evening, President Trump once again promised bipartisanship and instead delivered division. When it came to immigration, the president neither...

February 4, 2019

The Trump administration has slowed the processing of immigration benefit applications to a crawl, causing needless harm to immigrants, their families, and their employers. Under President Trump,...

January 23, 2019

New estimates of the undocumented population in the United States confirm a trend that has been apparent for several years: the number of people who become undocumented each year by overstaying...

December 11, 2018

On Monday night, the 60–day comment period for the Trump administration’s proposed public charge regulation drew to a close. More than 210,000 comments were submitted, with the majority of...

December 11, 2018
The American Immigration Council, with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, filed comments because a financial litmus test should never serve as a measure for who we welcome into our country.

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