Federal Courts/Jurisdiction

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, the immigration system has failed to provide noncitizens with a system of justice that lives up to this standard. Learn about ways in which the immigration system could ensure that all noncitizens have a fair day in court.  

Recent Features

All Federal Courts/Jurisdiction Content

October 24, 2016
This fact sheet provides an overview of the Supreme Court’s decision in Plyler v. Doe and subsequent efforts by states and localities to avoid compliance with the decision.
April 11, 2016
This guide provides brief answers to common questions about United States v. Texas, including what is at stake in the case, how the litigation began, what the contested issues are, and the impact the...
June 1, 2013

“Judicial review” refers to federal court review of an immigration agency decision. Some individuals whose immigration benefits applications are denied or who are ordered removed from the United...

March 25, 2010
Years before the U.S. Supreme Court ended racial segregation in U.S. schools with Brown v. Board of Education, a federal circuit court in California ruled that segregation of school children...
March 1, 2015
By statute, noncitizens who have been ordered removed have the right to file one motion to reopen. 8 U.S.C. § 1229a(c)(7)(A). In most cases, these statutory motions to reopen are subject to strict filing deadlines. See 8 U.S.C. §§ 1229a(c)(7)(C)(i), (b)(5)(C)(i). However, as nine courts of appeals have recognized, the deadlines are subject to equitable tolling, a long-recognized principle through which courts can waive the application of certain non-jurisdictional statutes of limitations where a plaintiff was diligent but nonetheless unable to comply with the filing deadline. Several courts have also recognized that the numerical limitation on motions to reopen is subject to tolling. The Council continues to advocate in the remaining courts of appeals for recognition that that the motion to reopen deadlines are subject to equitable tolling and, with the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers' Guild (NIPNLG), has filed amicus briefs in the Fourth, Fifth and Eleventh Circuits.
January 21, 2014
The American Immigration Council and National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) are seeking to preserve federal court review of damages actions brought by noncitizens for abuse of authority by immigration agents.
October 4, 2013
The Council, along with the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG), is seeking to preserve federal court review of damages actions brought by noncitizens for abuse of authority by immigration agents. In actions brought under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), the government routinely moves to dismiss these cases on a variety of jurisdictional grounds, including by arguing that INA § 242(g) bars the court’s review of damages claims in any case involving removal procedures, and that a remedy under Bivens is not available in immigration-related actions. In essence, the government is attempting to deprive those who have been harmed by immigration agents of any remedy in federal court.
April 16, 2008
The Council filed an amicus brief arguing that the district court had jurisdiction over the denial of an asylee relative petition in a case brought under the Administrative Procedure Act. Case settled without a decision from the court.
March 8, 2017
This Practice Advisory provides basic information about filing an immigration-related mandamus action in federal district court. It discusses the required elements of a successful mandamus action as well as jurisdictional concerns that may arise.
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...
September 26, 2016
This Practice Advisory discusses whether and how a person can get review of a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services decision in federal court if he or she did not appeal the decision to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). The Advisory addresses the Supreme Court case Darby v. Cisneros, holding that a plaintiff is not required to exhaust non-mandatory administrative remedies in certain situations, and how it may apply to cases involving appeals to the AAO.
June 3, 2016
This Practice Advisory provides information to help practitioners assess whether filing suit in federal court is the right option for challenging an employment-based petition denial.
November 9, 2015
Noncitizens may file a petition for review in the court of appeals to seek judicial review of a final removal order. This Practice Advisory addresses the procedures and general requirements for filing and litigating a petition for review.
June 17, 2014
Litigants who are successful in their federal court cases against the government may be able to recover attorneys’ fees and costs under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). The American Immigration Council and National Immigration Project have reissued their Practice Advisory on EAJA. The Advisory discusses the statutory requirements for eligibility and other procedural and substantive aspects of filing a fee application under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA).
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.
October 23, 2013
Section 336(b) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. § 1447(b), gives a district court jurisdiction to intervene in a case where USCIS has failed to make a decision on the naturalization application within 120 days of the applicant’s “examination” by USCIS. This Practice Advisory discusses the nuts and bolts of bringing a suit under INA § 336(b). It also discusses when attorneys fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act are available.
June 20, 2013
This Practice Advisory discusses the primary issues involved in a suit brought under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to challenge an unlawful agency action. The Advisory provides examples of how these issues have been decided in immigration cases and arguments that can be made to meet the various procedural requirements for an APA action.
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.
April 26, 2018

The Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday in Trump v. Hawaii, one of several cases challenging President Trump’s third travel ban. After two earlier travel bans were partially or fully struck...

April 18, 2018

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling on Tuesday in Sessions v. Dimaya, declared a provision of immigration law so vague as to be unconstitutional. Noncitizens—including green card holders—can be...

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...

February 27, 2018

The Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration’s request to hear an emergency appeal of a lower court’s January decision that prevents the government from fully ending the Deferred Action for...

January 30, 2018

  Following the contentious arrest of immigrant activist Ravi Ragbir, a federal district court ordered his immediate release from Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention on Monday. The...

January 10, 2018

There has been a flurry of activity around finding a long-term solution for Dreamers this week. All three branches of government have engaged in these head-spinning developments, ultimately...

December 8, 2017

The Supreme Court—with a 7-2 vote on Monday—gave the green light to the Trump administration’s third travel ban, allowing it to fully go into effect. In two brief orders, the Supreme Court...

November 29, 2017

After being lured to participate in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) initiative that promised a reprieve from deportation, 51 Indonesian nationals suddenly were at risk for removal...

October 31, 2017

In a sweeping decision, a federal judge ruled the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) could not continue to prevent approximately 2,000 noncitizen Army Reserve soldiers from applying for citizenship...

October 18, 2017

Only hours before President Trump’s third travel ban was set to go into effect Tuesday night, it was halted by the same federal court in Hawaii that stopped the second version of the travel ban in...

June 28, 2017
A U.S. District Court condemned the federal government for continuing to disregard critical protections for children in detention.
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).
September 20, 2016
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), Dobrin & Han, PC, American Immigration Council, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild commend the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) for reversing course and now allowing asylum applicants to file their applications by mail or in person at an immigration court window.
July 20, 2016
In a disappointing but unsurprising decision, a divided panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals today denied the federal government’s appeal of the preliminary injunction that has temporarily stopped President Obama’s latest deferred action initiatives from being implemented.
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.
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.
July 1, 2016
The U.S. Government has placed unnecessary hurdles in front of asylum seekers who are attempting to file asylum applications within the required time period.
June 27, 2016
A federal court has granted class-action status to a lawsuit challenging the federal government's failure to provide children in immigration court with lawyers in their deportation hearings. Several thousand children are estimated to be members of the class.
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.
April 26, 2018

The Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday in Trump v. Hawaii, one of several cases challenging President Trump’s third travel ban. After two earlier travel bans were partially or fully struck...

April 18, 2018

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling on Tuesday in Sessions v. Dimaya, declared a provision of immigration law so vague as to be unconstitutional. Noncitizens—including green card holders—can be...

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...

February 27, 2018

The Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration’s request to hear an emergency appeal of a lower court’s January decision that prevents the government from fully ending the Deferred Action for...

January 30, 2018

  Following the contentious arrest of immigrant activist Ravi Ragbir, a federal district court ordered his immediate release from Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention on Monday. The...

January 10, 2018

There has been a flurry of activity around finding a long-term solution for Dreamers this week. All three branches of government have engaged in these head-spinning developments, ultimately...

December 8, 2017

The Supreme Court—with a 7-2 vote on Monday—gave the green light to the Trump administration’s third travel ban, allowing it to fully go into effect. In two brief orders, the Supreme Court...

November 29, 2017

After being lured to participate in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) initiative that promised a reprieve from deportation, 51 Indonesian nationals suddenly were at risk for removal...

October 31, 2017

In a sweeping decision, a federal judge ruled the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) could not continue to prevent approximately 2,000 noncitizen Army Reserve soldiers from applying for citizenship...

October 18, 2017

Only hours before President Trump’s third travel ban was set to go into effect Tuesday night, it was halted by the same federal court in Hawaii that stopped the second version of the travel ban in...

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