Border Enforcement

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 Border Enforcement Content

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.
February 1, 2016
The unprecedented levels of crime and violence that have overwhelmed the Northern Triangle countries in recent years have produced a refugee situation for those directly in the line of fire, making...
December 17, 2015
These accounts reveal the markedly dehumanizing conditions to which these women were subjected while in Border Patrol custody.
June 10, 2015

Each year, the Border Patrol, a division of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), holds hundreds of thousands of people in detention facilities near the southern border that are...

May 4, 2014
Of the 809 complaints of alleged abuse lodged against Border Patrol agents between January 2009 and January 2012, 97 percent resulted in “No Action Taken.” On average, CBP took 122 days to arrive at...
April 28, 2014
The deportation process has been transformed drastically over the last two decades. Today, two-thirds of individuals deported are subject to what are known as “summary removal procedures,” which...
December 10, 2013
This three-part series highlights the findings of the Migrant Border Crossing Study—a binational, multi-institution study of 1,110 randomly selected, recently repatriated migrants surveyed in six...
July 24, 2013
The House of Representatives and the Senate have embarked upon very different paths when it comes to immigration reform. On June 27, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill—...
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...

October 22, 2015
This Practice Advisory focuses on the meaning of “admission” in four very specific, but frequently encountered situations: a “wave-through” at a port of entry; and entry based on misrepresentation; an entry based on a false claim to U.S. citizenship; and the grant of TPS as an admission for purposes of adjustment of status.
November 13, 2013
This Practice Advisory addresses some of the factual scenarios and legal issues that may arise when seeking to suppress evidence unlawfully obtained at or near the border. This Practice Advisory supplements a prior American Immigration Council Practice Advisory, Motions to Suppress in Removal Proceedings: A General Overview, which has been updated to address certain strategic considerations concerning motions to suppress, including the advisability and timing of filing a concurrent request for prosecutorial discretion or a lawsuit for damages.
January 17, 2017

For many months, lawyers and advocates have received damning reports from asylum-seeking families, adults, and even unaccompanied minors fleeing Mexico and Central America who have been...

January 10, 2017

President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to build a wall along the U.S-Mexico border took a step forward last week as Congressional Republicans discussed ways to get funding for the structure through...

January 4, 2017

As the Obama Administration comes to an end and its legacy on immigration is solidified, one of the defining characteristics of the President’s eight years in office will be how he enforced...

December 21, 2016

Each year, tens of thousands of individuals are deported from the United States to Mexico without their personal belongings—including their identifications, money, and cell phones, among other...

November 29, 2016

A federal judge ordered the Border Patrol to immediately cease its practice of refusing to provide basic amenities to people detained in Border Patrol holding cells in Tucson, Arizona. The judge...

November 2, 2016

Almost one year ago, on November 16, 2015, 29 Central American women and their 35 minor children, represented by the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, sought federal court review of the legality of...

October 25, 2016

Recently the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), the agency that hears appeals of decisions of immigration judges nationwide, issued a call for amicus briefs on a deceptively simple question; when...

October 19, 2016

This week the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the total number of apprehensions by the Border Patrol of individuals trying to enter the country without authorization for Fiscal Year...

October 18, 2016

A border wall is a powerful symbol of exclusion: “We” are going to keep “them” out. And, by doing so, “we” are going to protect our people, our way of life, our society and economy from the threat...

October 13, 2016

Putting down a welcome mat for immigrants—rather than building a wall—ultimately makes the United States a more secure nation. Of course, measures that ensure we keep those out who represent a...

December 21, 2016
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), represented by the American Immigration Council and Foley & Lardner LLP, filed a lawsuit to compel U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and to request release of the CBP Officer's Reference Tool (ORT).
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.
June 27, 2016
A federal district court unsealed some of the photographs central to ongoing litigation challenging deplorable and unconstitutional conditions in Border Patrol detention facilities in the agency’s Tucson Sector. The court also allowed the Arizona Republic newspaper to intervene in the case to argue for the release of the documents.
June 4, 2016
Last week an alliance of immigration advocacy groups represented by the Legal Action Center filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
January 17, 2017

For many months, lawyers and advocates have received damning reports from asylum-seeking families, adults, and even unaccompanied minors fleeing Mexico and Central America who have been...

January 10, 2017

President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to build a wall along the U.S-Mexico border took a step forward last week as Congressional Republicans discussed ways to get funding for the structure through...

January 4, 2017

As the Obama Administration comes to an end and its legacy on immigration is solidified, one of the defining characteristics of the President’s eight years in office will be how he enforced...

December 21, 2016

Each year, tens of thousands of individuals are deported from the United States to Mexico without their personal belongings—including their identifications, money, and cell phones, among other...

December 21, 2016
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), represented by the American Immigration Council and Foley & Lardner LLP, filed a lawsuit to compel U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and to request release of the CBP Officer's Reference Tool (ORT).
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.
November 29, 2016

A federal judge ordered the Border Patrol to immediately cease its practice of refusing to provide basic amenities to people detained in Border Patrol holding cells in Tucson, Arizona. The judge...

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.
November 2, 2016

Almost one year ago, on November 16, 2015, 29 Central American women and their 35 minor children, represented by the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, sought federal court review of the legality of...

October 25, 2016

Recently the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), the agency that hears appeals of decisions of immigration judges nationwide, issued a call for amicus briefs on a deceptively simple question; when...

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