Right to Counsel

The enforcement of immigration laws is a complex and hotly-debated topic. Learn more about the costs of immigration enforcement and the ways in which the U.S. can enforce our immigration laws humanely and in a manner that ensures due process.

Recent Features

All Right to Counsel Content

October 1, 2014
The synopsis provides a summary of CBP policies related to access to counsel, based on documents obtained through the Council’s FOIA request and litigation. The summary addresses access to counsel in inspections and CBP detention, and policies on advisals of rights and the treatment of children.
This lawsuits seeks recognition of a right to appointed counsel for unrepresented children in immigration proceedings nationwide.
February 14, 2012
The Council and AILA submitted comments on the USCIS Interim Memo “The Role of Private Attorneys and Other Representatives; Revisions to Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) Chapters 12 and 15; AFM Update AD11-42.” The comments recommended, among other things, that USCIS take additional steps to clarify the role of attorneys and the treatment of attorneys’ written submissions; to address continued limitations on attorney seating; to expand the requirements related to waivers of representation; and to improve the complaint process.

The American Immigration Council, with co-counsel Dorsey & Whitney LLP, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to compel the release of records relating to noncitizens’ access to counsel.

August 8, 2011
In this letter, the Council and AILA urged ICE to address reports of restrictions on access to counsel in a range of interview settings. These restrictions, documented in a nation-wide survey of immigration attorneys, included complete bars to attorney presence during ICE interviews and limits on participation when attorneys are permitted to be present. Attorneys also reported that ICE officers often were antagonistic toward attorneys.
June 14, 2011
The Council and AILA provided recommendations for changes to the USCIS Adjudicator's Field Manual (AFM) to better safeguard the attorney's role in USCIS interviews. These recommendations were in response to a request from USCIS to present specific recommendations for changes to USCIS guidance on access to counsel.
May 10, 2011
In this May 11, 2011 letter, the Council and AILA urged CBP to address restrictions on access to counsel. These restrictions - documented in a nation-wide survey of immigration attorneys - included limitations on attorneys’ access to their clients in secondary and deferred inspection. In instances where attorneys were able to accompany their clients, CBP officers limited the scope of representation. Attorneys also reported that CBP officers prevented attorneys from providing relevant documentation and sometimes adopted an adversarial approach.
The American Immigration Council, with co-counsel Dorsey & Whitney LLP, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to compel the release of records relating to noncitizens’ access to counsel.
The American Immigration Council, with co-counsel Dorsey & Whitney LLP, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to compel the release of records relating to noncitizens’ access to counsel.

The Council filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to compel the release of records relating to noncitizens’ access to counsel before Immigration and Customs Enforement...

January 7, 2019

As the Trump administration continues to strip away due process in immigration courts, the recent creation of two “Immigration Adjudication Centers” is cause for concern. The two new facilities...

December 10, 2018

On Monday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in C.J.L.G. v. Whitaker, a case that addresses whether children facing deportation have the right to a court-appointed attorney....

September 7, 2018

The Department of Justice (DOJ) released “Phase I” of its review of the federally-funded Legal Orientation Program (LOP) this week. The review came after Attorney General Jeff Sessions attempted...

April 25, 2018

Just two weeks after the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a suspension of the Legal Orientation Program (LOP), Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified today that DOJ will reverse course and...

April 11, 2018

In its latest attack on due process and access to counsel in the immigration court system, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) has decided to suspend its Legal Orientation Program (...

February 28, 2018

Indefinitely detained immigrants facing possible deportation lost ground in their fight for the right to a bond hearing following a Supreme Court decision on Tuesday. Their sole remaining weapon...

October 20, 2017

Immigrants facing deportation fare far better if they have a competent attorney representing them. For example, studies show that for asylum seekers, representation generally doubles the...

October 13, 2017

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly intending to implement numerical quotas on Immigration Judges as a way of evaluating their performance. This move would undermine judicial...

October 12, 2017

During a public appearance at the Department of Justice on Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions called on Congress to curb due process for immigrants by making it more difficult for an...

October 3, 2017

When the Supreme Court hears arguments in Jennings v. Rodriguez, the Justices will tackle a question eight of them considered in 2016: whether the Constitution allows the government to detain...

August 6, 2019
The American Immigration Council, American Civil Liberties Union, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP filed a federal lawsuit today challenging the Trump administration’s new rule that massively expands fast-track deportations without a fair legal process such as a court hearing or access to an attorney.
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 19, 2019
The American Immigration Council, American Immigration Lawyers Association, and Immigrant Defense Project filed a lawsuit Wednesday in federal court to compel the government to release records and data about the Department of Justice’s Institutional Hearing Program, an obscure program that expedites the deportation of immigrants who are serving time for criminal offenses. The lawsuit seeks to understand how the IHP operates, where it operates, and who it targets.
November 21, 2018
The American Immigration Council announced today that it will focus on the critical need for access to an attorney when navigating the immigration system during its #GivingTuesday and year-end fundraising campaign starting November 27.
August 16, 2017
The parties in Dilley Pro Bono Project v. ICE have reached a settlement that ensures access to mental health evaluations for certain detained mothers and children seeking asylum.
June 2, 2017
Access to legal counsel is a core American value and is the cornerstone of our justice system. Yet, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has severely limited access to legal assistance for asylum-seeking women and children held in family detention facilities.
May 25, 2017
AILA and the Council have petitioned the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to issue new regulations that will ensure all immigrants have access to legal counsel in secondary and deferred inspection, as well as overseas consular interviews.
September 30, 2015

Today, Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), the American Immigration Council, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), and the American Immigration Lawyers As

July 9, 2014
The American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public Counsel, and K&L Gates LLP today filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of children who are challenging the federal government's failure to provide them with legal representation as it carries out deportation hearings against them.
April 12, 2013

Court Says ICE Failed to Satisfy FOIA Requirements in Council’s Suit to Compel
Disclosure of Records on Access to Counsel

January 15, 2021
The Biden administration should take steps immediately upon entering office to expand federally funded legal representation programs for people facing removal. Here's why.
December 21, 2020

The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association submitted the following comments in response to the Executive Office for Immigration Review proposed rule,...

October 28, 2020

Once a year, National Pro Bono Week celebrates the pro bono work of lawyers, paralegals, and law students. Pro bono legal services—which come at no cost—are integral for many people otherwise left...

September 25, 2020

The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, through their joint initiative, the Immigration Justice Campaign, submitted this comment in opposition to...

September 11, 2020
It is not news that our nation is in an unprecedented moment where many of our democratic traditions and norms are being challenged. We have grown deeply concerned by the ongoing attacks on democracy that are unfolding before us.
August 27, 2020

Communication with the outside world is crucial for people in jail. This includes individuals facing deportation while detained in immigration detention centers, who do not have the right to court...

August 26, 2020
Individuals in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody at the Otero County Processing Center filed a motion for preliminary injunction to stop ICE from denying detained individuals the ability to contact their lawyers and the outside world by phone.
This lawsuit was filed to stop Immigration and Customs Enforcement from denying detainees the ability to contact their lawyers and the outside world by phone.
June 5, 2020
The American Immigration Council has named experienced attorney and litigator Kate Melloy Goettel to be its legal director of litigation.

Most Read

  • Publications
  • Blog Posts
  • Past:
  • Trending