Border Enforcement

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 Border Enforcement Content

October 14, 2019
Since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003, the federal government has spent an estimated $324 billion on the agencies that carry out immigration enforcement.
July 22, 2019
Expedited removal is a process by which low-level immigration officers can quickly deport certain noncitizens who are undocumented or have committed fraud or misrepresentation.
May 1, 2018
Over the last two decades, the federal government increasingly has utilized the criminal courts to punish people for immigration violations. This overview provides basic information about entry-...
March 7, 2018
Enforcement of U.S. immigration laws has historically been guided by policies that emphasize prioritization. However, this practice has largely been abandoned since the inauguration of President...
August 2, 2017
This report raises more concerns about misconduct throughout Border Patrol sectors and shows Customs and Border Patrol has made little progress in its efforts to improve accountability.
April 24, 2017

The last time the Border Patrol received a large infusion of money to hire thousands of new agents, cases of corruption and misconduct spiked in the agency. New hires were not sufficiently vetted...

February 27, 2017
The provisions in the order pose serious concerns for the protection and due process rights of those currently residing in the United States, communities along the U.S-Mexico border, and vulnerable...
December 21, 2016
Too often, some or all of a detainee’s belongings are lost, destroyed, or stolen by the immigration-enforcement agents entrusted with their care.
August 31, 2016
This report examines what happens when “family detention” does not actually keep loved ones together and profiles the experiences of five asylum-seeking families who are divided by detention.
August 18, 2016
This report reveals that individuals are frequently held for days and sometimes even months in holding cells in Border Patrol sectors along the U.S.’ southwest border.
The Trump administration wants to increase its power to deport immigrants without a fair day in court through expedited removal. We’re suing.
This lawsuit seeks to compel U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to release records relating to CBP’s complaint process and actions taken in response to complaints made to CBP concerning its agents and officers since January 1, 2012.
The requests ask for policies, guidelines, or procedures followed or used by the governmental agencies to address the processing and treatment of families at the U.S.-Mexico border and specifically, the separation of adult family members from minor children and the criminal prosecution of adult family members.
The class-action lawsuit complaint alleges that Tucson Sector Border Patrol holds men, women, and children in freezing, overcrowded, and filthy cells for days at a time in violation of the U.S. Constitution and CBP’s own policies.
In March 2015, the American Immigration Council, in collaboration with the Law Office of Stacy Tolchin, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, filed a class action lawsuit against CBP over its nationwide pattern and practice of failing to timely respond to requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The plaintiffs included both immigration attorneys and individuals, all of whom had FOIA requests pending for over 20 business days.
In March 2013, the American Immigration Council and Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, later joined by the Legal Aid Justice Center, filed a lawsuit alleging that CBP officers at Dulles Airport in Virginia unlawfully detained a U.S. citizen child for more than twenty hours, deprived her of contact with her parents, and then effectively deported her to Guatemala. The case was one of ten complaints filed the same week to highlight CBP abuses along the northern and southern borders.
In June 2012, the American Immigration Council, in collaboration with Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, filed suit against DHS and CBP for unlawfully withholding records concerning voluntary returns of noncitizens from the United States to their countries of origin. Voluntary return, also known as “administrative voluntary departure,” is a procedure whereby CBP officers permit noncitizens to voluntarily depart the United States at their own expense rather than undergoing formal removal proceedings. Noncitizens may be granted voluntary return to their countries of origin after conceding unlawful presence in the United States and knowingly and voluntarily waiving the right to contest removal.

Based on reports from immigration advocates, CBP officers do not always provide noncitizens with information regarding the consequences of accepting voluntary return...

August 1, 2017
This Practice Advisory addresses some of the legal issues that may arise when noncitizens in removal proceedings seek to suppress evidence unlawfully obtained by Customs and Border Protection officers.
November 1, 2015
This Practice Advisory discusses the impact of an interim rule repealing two former regulations which barred all “arriving aliens” from adjusting status if they are in removal proceedings. This Advisory provides a brief history leading to the rule, defines key terms, discusses the impact of the rule, and suggests steps that a parolee can take to benefit from the rule.
January 21, 2014
This Practice Advisory provides background information about requesting stays of removal from the court of appeals, discusses the legal standard for obtaining a stay, and addresses the implications of the government’s policy with respect to return of individuals who are successful on their appeal.
November 20, 2019

In yet another major blow to America’s asylum system, on Wednesday the Trump administration reportedly began sending some asylum seekers from Honduras and El Salvador to Guatemala rather than...

November 19, 2019

The Trump administration is preparing to seize private land in Texas to continue construction of the president’s long-promised border wall. According to government officials familiar with the...

November 18, 2019

Nearly 60,000 people seeking asylum in the United States have been returned to Mexico to wait for their U.S. court hearings under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the Remain...

November 15, 2019

A federal court ruled this week that sweeping policies permitting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to search personal cell phones,...

November 6, 2019

It’s been nearly a year since the Trump administration announced the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), or the “Remain in Mexico” program. This program forces vulnerable asylum seekers to return...

October 28, 2019

The Trump administration began a secretive new asylum process in El Paso, Texas that came to light late last week. It seeks to deter asylum seekers from coming to the United States and to remove...

October 24, 2019

Federal immigration officials are beginning to expand their use of surveillance technology to collect information on immigrants. As officials gather more tools in their arsenal—from DNA collection...

October 23, 2019

Rape, violence, kidnapping, and lack of basic health care is, unfortunately, a reality for hundreds of asylum seekers subjected to the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) or “Remain in Mexico”...

October 18, 2019

President Trump has made the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border a cornerstone of his presidency. To date, not a single mile of new barriers has been erected. But the Trump...

September 23, 2019

In the Trump administration’s rush to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, 22 archaeological sites could be damaged or entirely destroyed. This warning comes from an internal National Park...

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.
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.
May 7, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting Director Thomas Homan announced today that the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security will be stepping up prosecutions of individuals along the southern border—likely resulting in the criminalization of asylum seekers and more family separation.
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.
November 18, 2016
A federal district court found that U.S. Customs and Border Protection is violating the constitutional rights of people detained in holding facilities in Arizona and ordered the government to take steps to improve conditions in these facilities, known as hieleras.
October 5, 2016
In accordance with a settlement reached by the parties, a federal district court dismissed a class action lawsuit which challenged U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) nationwide practice of failing to timely respond to requests for case information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
August 18, 2016
Today, groups made public damning evidence, including expert testimony and video stills illustrating the deplorable and unconstitutional conditions detained individuals are subjected to in Border Patrol custody in the agency’s Tucson Sector.
July 19, 2016
A class action lawsuit was filed by three immigration attorneys and eleven noncitizens challenging U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s nationwide practice of failing to timely respond to requests for case information under the Freedom of Information Act.
July 7, 2016
The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association commented on the decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirming that the nearly 20-year-old Flores Settlement Agreement governs the custody and release of all immigrant children, and that the Obama Administration’s family detention practices violate that agreement.
July 6, 2016
he American Immigration Council (Immigration Council), represented by Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, today filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act to compel the release of additional documents related to the complaints process at United States Customs and Border Protection.
November 20, 2019

In yet another major blow to America’s asylum system, on Wednesday the Trump administration reportedly began sending some asylum seekers from Honduras and El Salvador to Guatemala rather than...

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

The Trump administration is preparing to seize private land in Texas to continue construction of the president’s long-promised border wall. According to government officials familiar with the...

November 18, 2019

Nearly 60,000 people seeking asylum in the United States have been returned to Mexico to wait for their U.S. court hearings under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the Remain...

November 15, 2019

A federal court ruled this week that sweeping policies permitting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to search personal cell phones,...

November 6, 2019

It’s been nearly a year since the Trump administration announced the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), or the “Remain in Mexico” program. This program forces vulnerable asylum seekers to return...

October 28, 2019

The Trump administration began a secretive new asylum process in El Paso, Texas that came to light late last week. It seeks to deter asylum seekers from coming to the United States and to remove...

October 24, 2019

Federal immigration officials are beginning to expand their use of surveillance technology to collect information on immigrants. As officials gather more tools in their arsenal—from DNA collection...

October 23, 2019

Rape, violence, kidnapping, and lack of basic health care is, unfortunately, a reality for hundreds of asylum seekers subjected to the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) or “Remain in Mexico”...

October 18, 2019

President Trump has made the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border a cornerstone of his presidency. To date, not a single mile of new barriers has been erected. But the Trump...

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