Detention

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 Detention Content

February 26, 2021
This fact sheet draws from original data gathered from hundreds of community-organizations around the country and provides a snapshot of the extent of available services that help migrants navigate...
January 10, 2020
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-...
July 17, 2019
The Institutional Hearing Program permits immigration judges to conduct removal proceedings for noncitizens serving criminal sentences in certain correctional facilities.
August 16, 2018
This report presents findings from the first empirical analysis of asylum adjudication in family detention. Drawing on government data from over 18,000 immigration court proceedings initiated between...
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.
December 17, 2015
These accounts reveal the dehumanizing conditions to which these women were subjected while in Border Patrol custody.
July 22, 2015

For decades, the U.S. refugee protection system has been a symbol of the nation’s generosity and openness to the world’s persecuted. Yet since Congress’ enactment of the Illegal Immigration Reform...

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...

October 6, 2011
One of the ugliest myths in the immigration debate is that immigrants are more likely to commit crime or pose a danger to society. Although studies repeatedly have shown that immigrants are less...
The Council filed multiple Freedom of Information Act requests to unearth the systems that the government uses in immigration enforcement and the data it collects.
February 12, 2021
The Council submitted this declaration in support of the ACLU's defense of the Biden Administration's moratorium on deportations. This declaration explains how the removal and detention system works.
This request would show whether CBP is violating statutory protections intended for these youth.
August 7, 2020
In the amicus brief, the Council and partners documented the reliance on these records by researchers and advocates to monitor and expose troubling practices.
May 12, 2020
The American Immigration Council filed this amicus curiae brief in support of individuals who sought release from detention due to their significant risk of infection from COVID-19.

The American Immigration Council filed a lawsuit after Immigrant Customs Enforcement (ICE) failed to respond to a Freedom of Information...

The Council filed a lawsuit to close the immigration courts and ensure due process.
This request seeks information that will enhance the public’s understanding of steps ICE has taken to protect detained individuals from an outbreak of COVID-19.
September 25, 2019
This statement shares our knowledge about these problems and inform the Subcommittee of these systemic human rights and due process violations. We hope that our perspective provides insight context for this important hearing.
June 1, 2008

This Practice Advisory offers a short introduction to habeas corpus, addressing when and how a petitioner may file a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the immigration context.

April 6, 2021

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers—which often suffer from cramped conditions and poor access to medical care—are highly conducive to the spread of COVID-19. But ICE...

March 26, 2021

After almost two years in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, Martin Vargas Arellano was released to a hospital on March 5. ICE did not notify his family or attorney. Three...

March 23, 2021

The current situation at the U.S.-Mexico border—including the rise in immigrant children in U.S. government custody—has captured the nation’s attention in recent weeks. Much of the conversation...

March 9, 2021

The Biden administration announced new “enforcement priorities” for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on February 18. The priorities were an initial step away from the Trump administration...

March 2, 2021

The U.S. government has long relied on a punitive and outdated detention system to keep immigrants in its custody. Even when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) places people on...

March 2, 2021

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced last week that it would make changes to two family detention centers in Texas that would result in families spending less time in detention...

January 4, 2021

This article is part of the Moving Forward on Immigration series that explores the future of immigration in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.  When the Biden administration takes...

November 18, 2020

The Trump administration announced on November 17 that it plans to start denying work permits to people who have been ordered deported, but who have been released from immigration custody because...

November 11, 2020

Immigration detention was dangerous before President Trump took office four years ago. His policies—coupled with a deadly global pandemic—have only made the situation more dire. Immigration...

November 5, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage inside ICE detention centers, hundreds of Cubans who cannot be deported, continue to be detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). They...

March 23, 2021
The nation has turned its attention to the current situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, including the rise in immigrant children in U.S. government custody. Much of the conversation has focused on a supposed surge in arrivals under the Biden administration, but the current increase began well before President Biden took office.
February 19, 2020
A federal court ordered U.S. Customs and Border Protection to overhaul the way the agency detains people in its custody in the Tucson Sector. The court found that the conditions in CBP holding cells, especially those that preclude sleep over several nights, are presumptively punitive and violate the U.S. Constitution.
January 23, 2020
During the course of the trial, a federal judge heard from qualified experts who testified on the inadequate medical care and severe conditions inside CBP detention centers.
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.
March 29, 2018
The practice of detaining pregnant women is inhumane and unsafe.
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.
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 20, 2016
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson released a statement on plans to make “substantial changes” to the agency’s family detention policies. The following is a statement, in response, from Ben Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council.
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.
April 6, 2021

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers—which often suffer from cramped conditions and poor access to medical care—are highly conducive to the spread of COVID-19. But ICE...

April 2, 2021
The American Immigration Council joined other organizations in calling on the Biden administration to phase-out immigration detention, beginning with the closure of ten specific facilities.
March 29, 2021
The American Immigration Council joined over 150 other organizations in urging the Biden administration to prioritize the implementation of a file review process, initiated by ICE, to reconsider the...
March 26, 2021

After almost two years in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, Martin Vargas Arellano was released to a hospital on March 5. ICE did not notify his family or attorney. Three...

March 23, 2021

The current situation at the U.S.-Mexico border—including the rise in immigrant children in U.S. government custody—has captured the nation’s attention in recent weeks. Much of the conversation...

March 23, 2021
The nation has turned its attention to the current situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, including the rise in immigrant children in U.S. government custody. Much of the conversation has focused on a supposed surge in arrivals under the Biden administration, but the current increase began well before President Biden took office.
The Council filed multiple Freedom of Information Act requests to unearth the systems that the government uses in immigration enforcement and the data it collects.
March 9, 2021

The Biden administration announced new “enforcement priorities” for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on February 18. The priorities were an initial step away from the Trump administration...

March 2, 2021

The U.S. government has long relied on a punitive and outdated detention system to keep immigrants in its custody. Even when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) places people on...

March 2, 2021

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced last week that it would make changes to two family detention centers in Texas that would result in families spending less time in detention...

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