Humanitarian Protection

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 Humanitarian Protection Content

November 25, 2015
This report provides background on the refugee experience in the United States, including welcoming and exclusionary responses, the impacts of these disparate reactions, and lessons to consider in...
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 26, 2015
This Guide provides information about the tens of thousands of children—some travelling with their parents and others alone—who have fled their homes in Central America and arrived at our southern...
July 1, 2014
U.S. and regional response must realize that the majority of these children have significant protection needs.
May 21, 2014
This paper addresses these issues, summarizes the concerns and experiences of numerous advocates in the field, and concludes that the credible fear and asylum process poses obstacles for applicants...
May 26, 2011
The dramatic announcement on May 17, 2011 that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for another eighteen months to Haitians, including those who...
October 21, 2010

In March 2008, the Bureau of Population, Migration and Refugees (PRM)—the Department of State agency that processes refugees abroad—halted its family...

January 22, 2010
Following the devastating earthquake which struck Haiti on January 12, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on January 15...
December 1, 2005
In the United States, human traffickers most frequently exploit the desperation of undocumented immigrants as a means of obtaining victims. Until recently, their lack of legal status precluded...
June 1, 2005
Thirty years after the fall of the Saigon government, Vietnamese Americans celebrate the fact that they have moved far beyond their refugee origins and become successful economic and political...
August 16, 2019

The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association submitted a comment explaining how the interim final rule on Asylum...

June 11, 2019
New evidence shows the woefully inadequate medical and mental health care in an immigration detention center in Aurora, Colorado. Here are some of the detainees’ experiences we documented:
April 3, 2019

This complaint highlights systemic due process violations that are undermining justice for detained immigrants called before judges at the El Paso Service Processing Center (SPC) Immigration Court...

February 28, 2019
Numerous babies under the age of one—and some as young as six months old—are being detained in immigration detention at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas.
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...

December 3, 2018
In Matter of Negusie, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions referred to himself the question of whether coercion and duress are relevant to the application of the immigration statute’s persecutor bar for individuals seeking asylum or withholding of removal
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...

October 15, 2020

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) launched another military-style raid on a humanitarian aid station in the Arizona desert, close to the U.S.-Mexico border. On October 5, Border Patrol...

October 13, 2020

At a time when tensions over race in the United States are high, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in an October 8 memo that it will cancel all diversity and inclusion trainings for...

September 29, 2020

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has implemented a new temporary rule preventing affirmative asylum seekers—who request asylum while already physically present in the United...

September 24, 2020

The Trump administration has spent most of the year trying to destroy asylum law—and the blows keep coming. On Sept. 23, the Department of Justice proposed yet another regulation aimed at certain...

September 14, 2020

In a split decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Trump administration’s termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for four countries can proceed. The fate of nearly 250...

September 1, 2020

A federal court on Monday halted a secretive program started under the Trump administration that allowed Border Patrol agents to be harsh gatekeepers to the asylum process. The court rejected the...

August 20, 2020

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) top two officials are under scrutiny once again after a congressional oversight office found they were unlawfully appointed to their positions. The...

August 19, 2020

For many people planning to seek asylum in the United States, enforcement starts in Panama, over 3,000 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border. U.S. immigration agencies collaborate with Panama’s...

August 12, 2020

Asylum seekers got a major win in a lawsuit challenging the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) illegal policy of turning back asylum seekers at ports of entry. In Al Otro Lado v. Wolf, a...

July 31, 2020

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released an advance copy of a final rule on July 31 that will impose significant fee increases across many facets of the legal immigration system...

March 31, 2020
A federal court in Arizona allowed five asylum-seeking mothers and their children who were torn apart under the Trump administration’s family separation policy to move forward with a lawsuit against the United States for the cruel treatment and anguish U.S. immigration agencies inflicted on them. The court denied the government’s motion to dismiss the case.
March 27, 2020
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has upheld a ruling blocking a Trump administration policy that categorically denies bond hearings to asylum seekers. The case is Padilla v. ICE.
March 5, 2020
A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel today blocked the Trump administration’s asylum transit ban from being applied to thousands of asylum seekers who were unlawfully prevented from accessing the U.S. asylum process before the ban was implemented. The decision lifts a prior administrative stay of the district court’s preliminary injunction. That injunction prohibits the government from applying the asylum ban to those who had been illegally metered before the ban went into effect.
February 28, 2020
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the “Remain in Mexico” program. Nearly 60,000 people seeking asylum in the United States have been returned to Mexico to wait for their U.S. court hearings under MPP.
February 19, 2020
A federal court ordered U.S. Customs and Border Protection to overhaul the way the agency detains people in its custody in the Tucson Sector. The court found that the conditions in CBP holding cells, especially those that preclude sleep over several nights, are presumptively punitive and violate the U.S. Constitution.
January 31, 2020
Citing national security concerns, the Trump administration announced the expansion of travel restrictions to the United States to nationals of six countries. The new travel restrictions suspend the issuance of immigrant visas to nationals from Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, and Nigeria, and bans nationals from Sudan and Tanzania from participating in the diversity visa program.
November 20, 2019
The Trump administration published a new rule that seeks to implement safe third country agreements that the United States entered into with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador—and bar many individuals seeking protection in the United States from being able to apply for asylum.
November 19, 2019
A federal judge blocked the Trump administration’s asylum ban from being applied to thousands of asylum seekers who were unlawfully prevented from accessing the U.S. asylum process before the ban was implemented.
October 24, 2019
Media reports today indicate that the government has initiated a new pilot program in El Paso, Texas to rush the review of sensitive asylum cases. The reported program, called “Prompt Asylum Case Review,” forces families to navigate the asylum process while detained in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
October 2, 2019
The American Immigration Council and Tahirih Justice Center filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in federal court to compel the government to release records about the Trump administration’s troubling new practice of allowing U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to screen individuals seeking asylum in the United States. The lawsuit seeks these documents to shed light on changes to the asylum screening process, CBP’s role in conducting interviews and making determinations regarding an asylum seeker’s “credible fear” of persecution, and the measures taken by CBP, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Department of Homeland Security to implement this new practice.
January 11, 2021

Five years ago, Donald Trump descended an elevator and declared that Mexico was sending rapists and “bringing crime” across the border. Now, while America still reels from the deadly...

January 7, 2021

This article is part of the Moving Forward on Immigration series that explores the future of immigration in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.  The Biden administration will soon...

January 7, 2021
Immigrant rights advocates moved for a temporary restraining order to block the Trump administration’s latest attempt to circumvent an earlier court order prohibiting the government from applying an asylum ban to people whom U.S. Customs and Border Protection had previously turned away from ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border.
January 5, 2021

This article is part of the Moving Forward on Immigration series that explores the future of immigration in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.  The United States has long been a...

The Council filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s rule that would drastically increase fees across-the-board in high-stakes immigration proceedings.
December 17, 2020

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an important announcement on December 9 about the Temporary Protective Status (TPS) designations for people from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras,...

December 14, 2020

The Trump administration secretly implemented one of its most horrific attacks on America’s long tradition of asylum—holding asylum seekers in U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody...

December 10, 2020

The Trump administration has finalized a sweeping regulation that will effectively end asylum protection in the United States. The regulation, which was proposed in June, is set to go into effect...

December 10, 2020
The American Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Council urge the Biden administration to prioritize undoing of new rule that spells death for the asylum system
December 9, 2020

Thousands of Liberians living lawfully in the United States run the risk of detention and deportation if they do not apply for the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness program (LRIF) by the...

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