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

February 1, 2005
The efficiency of the asylum program depends in large part on a fully staffed and adequately funded Asylum Corps that evaluates asylum claims thoroughly and expeditiously.
June 1, 2004
Although the federal government has made significant progress over the past three years in fighting human trafficking, more is needed to end this 21st century slave trade.
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.”
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.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers all too frequently deny individuals fleeing persecution and torture their right to seek protection in the United States, issue summary removal orders against them, and then falsify documents to support their illegal actions.
May 22, 2018
The statement shares our analysis and research regarding the nation's asylum system and the United States' obligations, as well as our deep concern around the administration's family separation policies and increased prosecution of migrants for entry-related offenses that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have implemented.
May 22, 2018

The American Immigration Council submitted a written statement to the House Homeland Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security for a May 22, 2018 hearing on “Stopping the Daily Border Caravan:...

The requests ask for policies, guidelines, or procedures followed or used by immigration enforcement regarding the treatment of pregnant individuals in custody and any system used to track and monitor pregnant detainees.
April 18, 2018

The American Immigration Council submitted a written statement to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration for an April 18, 2018 hearing on “Strengthening and Reforming...

The American Immigration Council has filed a class action lawsuit against officials at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Department of Homeland Security in a federal district court in New York, challenging the government’s unlawful practice of depriving certain Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders with close family relationships or employment in the United States from becoming lawful permanent residents.
February 19, 2018
In the case, Attorney General Jeff Sessions referred to himself questions related to administrative closure. This move by Sessions could signal an attempt to end administrative closure altogether—which could force over 350,000 immigrants back into immigration court, exacerbating the challenges of an already overburdened immigration court system.
December 11, 2017
The practice of dividing families raises Constitutional due process concerns under the Fifth Amendment, violates United States’ obligations under international law, and contravenes voluminous evidence maintaining that family separation is not in the best interest of the child.
July 29, 2020

The Trump administration has been detaining immigrant children in hotels along the Texas-Mexico border and in Arizona. Some of the children are just a year old and are held in the hotels for weeks...

July 23, 2020

A Canadian court has ruled that the United States is no longer a country to which the Canadian government could safely return asylum seekers who crossed the U.S-Canada land border.  This upends...

July 9, 2020

Even as President Trump downplays the threat of COVID-19, the Trump administration is using the pandemic as a pretext to bar more people from asylum in the United States. While the proposal is...

July 2, 2020

A program created in late 2019 to allow certain Liberian noncitizens in the United States to become lawful permanent residents (LPRs) is falling far short of its potential, according to a new...

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 29, 2020

Federal Judge Dolly Gee has ordered that children held for more than 20 days at U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) family detention centers must be released. The order was the latest...

June 24, 2020

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will finalize a new regulation on June 26 which will strip most asylum seekers of the right to seek work authorization. The rule imposes sweeping new...

June 16, 2020

Each year on June 20, World Refugee Day celebrates the resiliency of refugees who have fled persecution in their home countries. It also honors the process that allows countries to take in...

June 11, 2020

In sweeping new proposed regulations announced on June 11, the Trump administration took the first step toward administering a final blow to the U.S. asylum system. The proposed rules, which...

May 27, 2020

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government has implemented sweeping revisions to U.S. immigration policy. Many of the changes fail to prioritize the health of immigrants or...

September 26, 2019
Immigrant rights attorneys moved to block the Trump administration’s Asylum Ban from affecting tens of thousands of migrants who have already attempted to access the U.S. asylum process before the ban was implemented. With limited exceptions, the Asylum Ban prohibits anyone who traveled through a third country and did not seek protection there from obtaining asylum here. The request filed today is in the ongoing case challenging the Trump administration’s policy of turning back asylum seekers at ports of entry on the U.S.-Mexico border, including the “metering” policy.
September 19, 2019
Five asylum-seeking mothers and their children who were torn apart under the Trump administration’s family separation policy filed a lawsuit against the United States for the cruel treatment and agony U.S. immigration agencies inflicted on them. The five parents and their children, who were as young as five at the time of the separation, claim that the U.S. government intentionally subjected them to extraordinary trauma that will have lifelong implications.
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
A federal appeals court ruled that asylum seekers must continue to receive bond hearings while the court considers the Trump administration’s appeal to deny bond hearings with procedural protections to asylum seekers.
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 2, 2019
A federal court has blocked a Trump administration policy that categorically denies bond hearings to asylum-seekers. The policy, announced April 16 by Attorney General William Barr, targeted asylum-seekers whom immigration officers previously determined have a “credible fear” of persecution or torture if returned to the places they fled. The American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and American Civil Liberties Union challenged the policy with the lawsuit Padilla v. ICE.
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 16, 2019
In a decision today, Attorney General William Barr ruled that individuals with valid protection asylum claims who entered between ports of entry no longer are eligible for release on bond by an immigration judge. The decision could result in the unnecessary detention of thousands more individuals each year, despite the enormous financial and human costs. With the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and the ACLU, the American Immigration Council intends to challenge the new decision.
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.
April 3, 2019
The complaint demands an immediate investigation into systemic due process concerns at the El Paso Service Processing Center (SPC) immigration court in El Paso, Texas.
December 2, 2020

As the Biden-Harris administration prepares to take office, many anxiously await what immigration policies the Trump administration will finalize in the lead up to Inauguration Day in the form of...

December 1, 2020

The incoming Biden-Harris administration has announced its choice for secretary of the Department of Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas. If confirmed, Mayorkas will represent several historic...

November 19, 2020

For years, the Trump administration has argued that limited capacity at ports of entry led to its policy of turning back asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border (the “turnback policy”). But a...

November 12, 2020
The amicus brief in Pham v. Guzman Chavez urges the Supreme Court to find that the pre-final order detention statute applies to detained noncitizens with prior removal orders who have meritorious claims for a form of humanitarian protection known as withholding of removal.
November 12, 2020
The American Immigration Council, other immigrant rights organizations, and legal service providers filed a friend-of-the-court (or amicus) brief with the U.S. Supreme Court. The brief urges the justices to find that immigrants who seek humanitarian protection from removal should have access to bond hearings—instead of being subjected to mandatory detention.
November 10, 2020

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit ruled that certain people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) can apply for green cards without leaving the United States. In Velazquez v. Barr, the...

November 7, 2020
Joseph R. Biden has been elected to serve as the 46th president of the United States. In the months ahead, we look forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration to advance a pro-immigration agenda that respects the dignity of all people.
November 2, 2020
This Practice Advisory addresses USCIS’ reversal of its longstanding policy of treating authorized travel by Temporary Protected Status holders as “parole” for adjustment or status.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection may have mistreated migrant children when implementing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention interim final rule that suspends people from entering the United States due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
October 30, 2020
Children and immigration advocacy groups filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of Illinois against CBP requesting information about the agency’s implementation of the CDC rule suspending people from entering the United States due to the COVID 19 pandemic and its specific impact on unaccompanied migrant children fleeing harm and seeking protection in the United States.

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