Immigration Courts

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November 1, 2017
The statement addresses immigration court backlogs, the detailing of immigration judges to border facilities, detention policies, asylum-free zones, unaccompanied alien child definitions, and other challenges that are currently undermining due process within the immigration courts.
March 27, 2017
This amicus brief arguing that any Fourth Amendment violation by state and local law enforcement officers — not just egregious Fourth Amendments violations — should require the suppression of evidence in immigration court proceedings, which is the same standard that applies in the criminal justice arena.
This lawsuit challenged obstacles faced by asylum-seekers in satisfying the statutory requirement that they apply for asylum within one year of entering the United States.
August 17, 2015
The Council submitted an amicus brief arguing that immigration judges’ duty to develop the record is particularly important in pro se litigants’ cases, and that this duty requires immigration judges to provide noncitizens with information about the types of relief they are seeking and to actively elicit relevant information. For more information about this topic, contact the Council's legal department.
April 16, 2015
The Council and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild submitted an amicus brief in support of rehearing addressing immigration judges’ duty, in pro se cases, to fully inform litigants of the consequences of their legal decisions and to ensure that any waivers of appeal are knowing and intelligent. The Ninth Circuit denied the petition for rehearing in a non-precedent decision. For more information on this topic, contact the Council's legal department.
March 21, 2014
Noncitizens facing removal must have a meaningful opportunity to present their cases to an immigration judge. On occasion, noncitizens are deprived of this opportunity due to their lawyers’ incompetence or mistake. Although the government has recognized the need for a remedy for ineffective assistance of counsel, see Matter of Lozada, 19 I&N Dec. 637 (BIA 1988), the framework currently used to evaluate whether ineffective assistance has occurred is severely flawed. The Council has long worked to protect the right to effective assistance of counsel for noncitizens in removal proceedings.
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.
November 29, 2013
At issue in the case is whether the Constitution and the immigration laws allow an immigration judge to enter a removal order without considering whether removal would be a disproportionate penalty under the circumstances. The amicus brief by the Council and the Post-Deportation Human Rights Project tells the stories of five individuals who either already have or soon will face the extreme penalty of deportation and a permanent reentry bar for minor or nonviolent crimes committed years earlier. The men and women featured in the brief share many attributes: all were lawful permanent residents; all established significant ties to this country; all left (or will leave) behind U.S. citizen family members; all committed nonviolent crimes; all have demonstrated rehabilitation; and none was afforded the opportunity to explain to the immigration judge why forcible removal from the country was unjustified under the circumstances. The brief throws into stark relief the real life human consequences of stripping judges of the ability to consider the totality of the circumstances before entering an order of removal.
January 4, 2013
The American Immigration Council, working with the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, has repeatedly challenged the “departure bar,” a regulation that precludes noncitizens from filing a motion to reopen or reconsider a removal case after they have left the United States. The departure bar not only precludes reopening or reconsideration based on new evidence or arguments that may affect the outcome of a case, but also deprives immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals of authority to adjudicate motions to remedy deportations wrongfully executed, whether intentionally or inadvertently, by DHS. We argue that the regulation conflicts with the statutory right to pursue reopening and, as interpreted by the government, is an impermissible restriction of congressionally granted authority to adjudicate immigration cases.
In November 2009, the American Immigration Council sent a letter to the Executive Office for Immigration Review recommending steps the immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals can take to protect the right to effective assistance of counsel and help ensure that noncitizens in removal proceedings are afforded a fair hearing.
April 27, 2005
This Practice Advisory discusses the types of Affirmance Without Option (AWO) challenges that have failed and those that remain available. The Advisory also includes a chart identifying the primary cases in each circuit and how they have decided various AWO issues.
April 20, 2005
This Practice Advisory addresses situations in which a court might excuse a late-filed petition for review and discusses other administrative and federal court options for remedying the failure to timely file a petition for review. The Advisory also provides an overview of 28 U.S.C. § 1631, which authorizes courts to transfer a case to cure a lack of jurisdiction when an action is filed in the wrong federal court.
April 6, 2005
On April 1, 2005, EOIR’s Background and Security Check regulations went into effect. The interim rule bars IJs and the BIA from granting most forms of relief until DHS has informed them that security checks are completed. This Practice Advisory provides basic information about the requirements and procedures under the interim rule and highlights the major changes to BIA procedures.
August 27, 2019

The Trump administration implemented more drastic changes to the U.S. immigration court system on Monday. A new rule gives the director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)—a...

August 12, 2019

Immigration judges around the country are denouncing the Trump administration’s latest move to “disband and destroy” their union. The judges’ union has been openly critical of the administration’s...

August 9, 2019

In an attempt to rush through immigrant families’ court cases, the government began implementing “rocket dockets” in September 2018 for parents and children who had recently entered the United...

August 6, 2019

The Trump administration recently announced it would start applying a fast-tracked deportation process known as “expedited removal” to hundreds of thousands more people than ever before. People...

July 31, 2019

Attorney General William Barr issued a decision that significantly restricts the ability of many current asylum seekers to win their cases on Monday. In Matter of L-E-A-, Barr issued a new...

July 26, 2019

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision clarifying limits on when federal prosecutors can charge immigrants with illegal entry and reentry into the United States this week.  Under...

July 19, 2019

Since the mid-1980s, immigration courts have operated the Institutional Hearing Program (IHP). The program is designed to quickly deport people serving criminal sentences. Despite how long it’s...

July 12, 2019

Every day, hundreds of non-English speaking immigrants show up to court for initial hearings where they will see an immigration judge for the first time. But due to a new policy, many immigrants...

July 9, 2019

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) issued a final rule last week that expands the authority of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and Attorney General William Barr when...

July 3, 2019

Attorney General William Barr announced in April 2019 plans to eliminate bond hearings for immigrants who pass an asylum screening interview after entering the United States. This would have...

September 21, 2018
Yesterday, plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit challenging the U.S. government’s targeted efforts to obstruct asylum seekers filed a motion for preliminary injunction demanding timely bond hearings that comport with due process.
May 17, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions unilaterally removed immigration judges’ general authority to administratively close cases. Ending the use of administrative closure will have far-reaching consequences for those in removal proceedings, including adding tens of thousands of cases to an already over-burdened immigration court system.
April 25, 2018
Citing pushback from congressional leaders, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Executive Office for Immigration Review, part of the Department of Justice, will continue the Legal Orientation Program.
April 23, 2018
In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Council received a partially redacted report written by Booz Allen Hamilton and commissioned by the Executive Office for Immigration Review. The comprehensive report investigated a range of immigration court issues including judicial performance reviews, Legal Orientation Programs, and procedural mechanisms, such as administrative closure, that can be used to streamline caseloads.
April 11, 2018
The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), part of the Department of Justice (DOJ), announced its intention to cancel the Legal Orientation Program (LOP) despite its immensely positive impact on judicial efficiency and fundamental fairness, and Congress’ express instruction to continue such programming, along with the provision of funding in the fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill, recently signed by the president.
April 3, 2018
The Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), part of the Department of Justice (DOJ), has instituted strict quotas as part of immigration judges' individual performance evaluations, a shift that strips away the independence held by judges who are making high stakes decisions about whether a person will be deported.
March 29, 2018
A federal district court judge in Washington State ruled today that the federal government’s failure to notify asylum seekers that they must apply for asylum within one year of arriving in the United States violated their right to due process, and ordered the government to provide such notice.
February 21, 2018
The American Immigration Council, joined by several other immigration groups, submitted an amicus brief that argues that due process requires an impartial adjudicator and that Sessions’ anti-immigrant statements and actions prevent him from acting as one. The brief lays out Sessions’ decades-long public record of anti-immigrant statements, including specific statements evidencing prejudgment of issues in the case, and urges Sessions to either vacate the referral order or recuse himself from the case.
January 18, 2018
The lawsuit challenges the practice of three of the four sitting immigration judges in the Charlotte Immigration Court who refuse to conduct bond hearings—even though they are required to do so—and are consequently prolonging the detention of bond-eligible individuals for several weeks.
June 19, 2017
The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) are responding to this representation crisis with an Immigration Justice Campaign, a new initiative to prepare more lawyers to be cutting-edge defenders of immigrants facing deportatio
April 22, 2020
This practice advisory discusses the standards of review that the Board of Immigration Appeals is required to employ when it reviews appeals of immigration judge decisions.
April 8, 2020
Immigration groups moved for an emergency temporary restraining order against the Executive Office for Immigration Review and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in order to protect the health of immigration attorneys, immigrants, and the public from the impact of dangerous and unconstitutional policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
April 1, 2020

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads and entire states go into quarantine, immigrants and their attorneys are still being forced to gather in cramped immigration courtrooms inside detention...

The Council filed a lawsuit to close the immigration courts and ensure due process.
March 30, 2020
This lawsuit demands the government take immediate actions to prioritize the health and safety of attorneys and clients at risk in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
March 23, 2020
In a letter calling for prioritizing the health and safety of government employees, detained individuals, and their legal representatives amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, together with the National Immigrant Justice Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and more than 100 other organizations, urged the U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to immediately authorize the robust and automatic use of remote options for immigration court appearances and attorney-client meetings.
March 19, 2020
The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court to compel the Department of Justice’s Office of Information Policy to release records about the Executive Office for Immigration Review’s hiring procedures for appellate immigration judges and Board of Immigration Appeals Members. The lawsuit seeks to understand current hiring procedures for the BIA—the highest administrative body for interpreting and applying immigration laws—after reports came to light of anti-immigrant bias in the hiring process.
March 17, 2020

The Trump administration has steadily implemented initiatives to restructure the immigration court system without providing much information to the public. The lack of government transparency...

The American Immigration Council filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) seeking information relating to the expansion and...

January 30, 2020

A congressional oversight committee held a hearing this week on the need for immigration court reform and the systemic due process challenges within the immigration court system. The House...

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