Immigration Courts

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June 17, 2016
Backlogs and delays benefit neither immigrants nor the government—keeping those with valid claims in limbo and often in detention, delaying removal of those without valid claims, and calling into...
May 16, 2016

Over the past few years, thousands of children—many fleeing horrific levels of violence in Central America—have arrived at the U.S. border in need of protection. Most children are placed in...

July 29, 2014
As the number of unaccompanied children arriving at the United States border has increased, some lawmakers have argued that children frequently fail to appear for proceedings and thus proposed...
May 15, 2013
Our legal system rests upon the principle that everyone is entitled to due process of law and a meaningful opportunity to be heard. But for far too long, immigration courts have failed to provide...
June 11, 2012
In August 2011, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would review more than 300,000 pending removal proceedings to identify low-priority cases meriting favorable exercises of...
September 1, 2006
Access to an independent judiciary with the power to hold the government accountable in its dealings with individuals is a founding principle of the United States. In contrast, imagine a system...
December 1, 2003
Children who travel unaccompanied to the United States experience not only the trauma of family separation and the frequently predatory behavior of the traffickers who bring them, but also harsh...

The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)—the...

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.
This lawsuit challenges the actions of immigration judges in Charlotte, North Carolina who have refused to conduct bond hearings for people who properly file bond motions with the Charlotte Immigration Court.
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.
August 1, 2017
This Practice Advisory provides a general overview of motions to suppress, a tool used to prevent the introduction of evidence obtained by federal immigration officers in violation of the Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, and related provisions of federal law.
August 1, 2017
This Practice Advisory discusses some of the legal issues that may arise when noncitizens in removal proceedings move to suppress evidence obtained through constitutional violations by state and local officers seeking to enforce immigration law.
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.
February 13, 2017
This Practice Advisory provides a broad overview of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), including how to make a FOIA request and how to appeal an inadequate response. It discusses the...
December 1, 2015
The immigration courts’ unprecedented backlogs are creating procedural and substantive challenges for attorneys trying to comply with the One-Year Filing Deadline (OYFD) in asylum cases. This Practice Advisory discusses strategies and procedures for complying with the OYFD.
June 1, 2014
This Practice Advisory, written in collaboration with the ABA Commission on Immigration and Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights, provides innovative legal and procedural arguments and strategies for attorneys representing noncitizens 1) who are likely to be issued NTAs, 2) who have been issued NTAs that have not been filed with the immigration court, or 3) who have been issued NTAs that have been filed. It provides an overview of the legal requirements for an NTA and strategies available to attorneys to cancel, mitigate, or challenge the contents of an NTA. In addition to presenting legal and procedural arguments, the Advisory provides strategies to attorneys wishing to seek prosecutorial discretion in connection with the NTA.
February 5, 2014
The American Immigration Council’s Practice Advisory, Employment Authorization and Asylum: Strategies to Avoid Stopping the Asylum Clock, has been updated to reflect extensive changes to the manner in which the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) determine an asylum applicant’s eligibility for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
November 20, 2013

This Practice Advisory discusses the "departure bar" to motions to reopen and arguments adopted by circuit courts that have rejected or upheld the bar.

April 29, 2013
This Practice Advisory examines how the courts and the agencies apply the fugitive disentitlement doctrine which arises in the immigration context when courts of appeals use the doctrine to dismiss petitions for review and when government agencies invoke the doctrine to deny FOIA requests. This Practice Advisory examines how the courts and the agencies apply the doctrine in these contexts.
December 21, 2012
This Practice Advisory contains practical and legal suggestions for individuals seeking to return to the United States after they have prevailed on a petition for review or an administrative motion to reopen or reconsider to the immigration court or Board of Immigration Appeals.
October 12, 2018

Overwhelmed immigration courts and massive court backlogs have long been a nation-wide problem. Hearings are regularly scheduled years in advance—in some jurisdictions, judges are scheduling...

October 1, 2018

On October 1, immigration judges around the country will arrive at work and face a daunting new task; complete 700 removal cases in the next year or risk official sanction. The new court quotas...

September 26, 2018

In his latest attempt to micromanage immigration judges and ensure a maximum number of deportations, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a decision last week restricting a judge’s ability to...

September 11, 2018

Rather than encourage the new class of 44 immigration judges to be fair and impartial adjudicators in his Monday morning speech, Attorney General Jeff Sessions advocated for a deeply flawed...

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...

August 21, 2018

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a decision on continuances in immigration court that both recognized their importance and decried their alleged overuse.  This decision will have widespread...

August 17, 2018

The National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ), the union that represents the nation’s immigration judges, is challenging the government’s decision to remove an immigration judge from a...

August 8, 2018

Recently released internal communications at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reveal a plan to restart the deportation cases of hundreds of thousands of people whose cases are currently...

August 7, 2018

The Trump administration is working hard to undermine the asylum system through additional and unnecessary barriers, making it more difficult for those seeking refuge in the United States to be...

July 16, 2018

President Trump wasted no time after assuming office in signing three executive orders which fundamentally changed the nature of immigration enforcement in the United States: Border Security and...

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.
January 12, 2017
A federal court in Seattle has granted nationwide class action status to a case seeking to protect the rights of thousands of asylum seekers pursuing protection from persecution in their home countries.
August 1, 2016
An appellate court has ruled for an immigration group in a lawsuit against the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) challenging its response to a request for information regarding alleged misconduct by immigration judges and records that would reveal whether the agency adequately investigates and resolves complaints against immigration judges.
July 10, 2016
The decision strongly reaffirms the importance of immigrants’ statutory right to file a motion to reopen, a procedural protection meant to ensure a proper and lawful outcome in an immigration proceeding.
January 22, 2015

Washington, D.C.—Recently, the U.S.

August 1, 2014

Washington D.C. – The American Immigration Council, American Civil Liberties Union, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public

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.
October 1, 2013

Washington, D.C. - Last week, the First Circuit Court of Appeals held that individuals who have been depor

June 6, 2013

Washington, DC - The public has a right to know whether the government adequately investigates and resolves complaints alleging misconduct by immigration judges, the American Immig

October 12, 2018

Overwhelmed immigration courts and massive court backlogs have long been a nation-wide problem. Hearings are regularly scheduled years in advance—in some jurisdictions, judges are scheduling...

October 1, 2018

On October 1, immigration judges around the country will arrive at work and face a daunting new task; complete 700 removal cases in the next year or risk official sanction. The new court quotas...

September 26, 2018

In his latest attempt to micromanage immigration judges and ensure a maximum number of deportations, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a decision last week restricting a judge’s ability to...

September 11, 2018

Rather than encourage the new class of 44 immigration judges to be fair and impartial adjudicators in his Monday morning speech, Attorney General Jeff Sessions advocated for a deeply flawed...

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...

August 21, 2018

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a decision on continuances in immigration court that both recognized their importance and decried their alleged overuse.  This decision will have widespread...

August 17, 2018

The National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ), the union that represents the nation’s immigration judges, is challenging the government’s decision to remove an immigration judge from a...

August 8, 2018

Recently released internal communications at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reveal a plan to restart the deportation cases of hundreds of thousands of people whose cases are currently...

August 7, 2018

The Trump administration is working hard to undermine the asylum system through additional and unnecessary barriers, making it more difficult for those seeking refuge in the United States to be...

July 16, 2018

President Trump wasted no time after assuming office in signing three executive orders which fundamentally changed the nature of immigration enforcement in the United States: Border Security and...

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