Due Process and the Courts

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 Due Process and the Courts Content

October 1, 2014
The synopsis provides a summary of CBP policies related to access to counsel, based on documents obtained through the Council’s FOIA request and litigation. The summary addresses access to counsel in inspections and CBP detention, and policies on advisals of rights and the treatment of children.
This lawsuits seeks recognition of a right to appointed counsel for unrepresented children in immigration proceedings nationwide.
Publication Date: 
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.
Publication Date: 
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.
Publication Date: 
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.
Publication Date: 
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.
The American Immigration Council and co-counsel Public Citizen filed a lawsuit on behalf of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) seeking information about complaints alleging immigration judge misconduct.
Publication Date: 
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.
February 14, 2012
The Council and AILA submitted comments on the USCIS Interim Memo “The Role of Private Attorneys and Other Representatives; Revisions to Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) Chapters 12 and 15; AFM Update AD11-42.” The comments recommended, among other things, that USCIS take additional steps to clarify the role of attorneys and the treatment of attorneys’ written submissions; to address continued limitations on attorney seating; to expand the requirements related to waivers of representation; and to improve the complaint process.

The American Immigration Council, with co-counsel Dorsey & Whitney LLP, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to compel the release of records relating to noncitizens’ access to counsel.

Publication Date: 
April 13, 2009
This Practice Advisory explains the federal rules authorizing electronic filing in federal court; describes how to file documents in federal court using the Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) System; and outlines how to access electronic documents through Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER). The Advisory discusses restrictions on electronic access to court documents in immigration cases.
Publication Date: 
August 5, 2008
The Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes the courts of appeals to review “final” removal orders. This Practice Advisory addresses whether a removal decision issued by an Immigration Judge or the BIA is a “final” removal order for purposes of federal court review.
Publication Date: 
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.

Publication Date: 
April 5, 2006
This Practice Advisory discusses the changes that the REAL ID Act made to INA § 242(a)(2)(B) and outlines an analysis for whether §242(a)(2)(B) applies to a particular case. It also discusses federal court jurisdiction over discretionary decisions after the REAL ID Act in the removal and non-removal contexts. The government has asserted this jurisdictional bar in employment-based, family-based, and humaritarian-based immigration cases.
Publication Date: 
June 7, 2005
On May 11, 2005, the REAL ID Act was signed into law. This Act contains numerous provisions related to federal court review of immigration cases. This Practice Advisory discusses the provisions of the Act that pertain to judicial review of immigration decisions under the INA.
Publication Date: 
April 20, 2005
This Practice Advisory addresses situations in which a court might excuse a late-filed petition for review and discusses other administrative and federal court options for remedying the failure to timely file a petition for review. The Advisory also provides an overview of 28 U.S.C. § 1631, which authorizes courts to transfer a case to cure a lack of jurisdiction when an action is filed in the wrong federal court.
September 2, 2021

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a law in August that would allow the Cook County Public Defender to represent immigrants in the Chicago immigration court. The law is part of a movement to...

July 16, 2021

Attorney General Merrick Garland vacated Matter of Castro-Tum on July 15, reviving a key tool to help judges prioritize cases in the overburdened immigration court system and allow people facing...

June 9, 2021

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) issued a new memorandum on May 27 that provides guidance on how its attorneys can and should exercise...

June 3, 2021

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  and the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on May 28 the creation of a new “Dedicated Docket” in immigration court for the claims of asylum-seeking...

June 2, 2021

In two unanimous decisions, the Supreme Court has rejected rules that provided protections for immigrants. The rejected rules came from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, a court...

May 13, 2021

The Biden administration announced its first round of immigration judge appointments on May 6. Unfortunately, the immigration court appointments do not show the commitment to diversity that ...

April 30, 2021

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week in Niz-Chavez v. Garland that immigration law requires the government to give noncitizens complete notice about the initiation of their immigration court...

March 5, 2021

The U.S. Supreme Court published a new decision on March 4 that will make it harder—if not impossible—for many longtime immigrants to fight deportation. The case, Pereida v. Wilkson, abandons...

February 26, 2021

The stakes in immigration court could not be higher—many people face the possibility of being permanently torn away from their families and communities in the United States. Others seeking...

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).
May 23, 2016

shington D.C. - The American Immigration Council (Council) and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) have teamed up on a lawsuit against the U.S.

April 18, 2016

Washington D.C. - Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in United States v. Texas.

April 5, 2016

Washington, D.C.—Last week, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Vartelas v.

October 21, 2015

Washington D.C. - Immigrant rights groups today filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation to compel the

September 30, 2015

Today, Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), the American Immigration Council, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), and the American Immigration Lawyers As

September 28, 2023

After weeks of failed negotiations on spending, Congress has less than a week left to avert a potential government shutdown. Members of the House Republicans’ Freedom Caucus have refused to pass...

September 14, 2023

The Department of Justice has proposed a new rule to protect immigration judges’ ability to administratively close removal proceedings and control their ever-expanding dockets. The proposed rule,...

August 30, 2023

The Biden administration’s humanitarian parole program for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans (CHNV) went on trial last week. The trial, held in a federal court in Texas, was the...

July 7, 2023

Written by Kelly Chauvin, Summer 2023 Legal Intern for the American Immigration Council Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a section of immigration law that forbids “encourag[ing] or...

May 24, 2023

The Supreme Court has agreed to decide a case that asks the Court to overturn Chevron v. National Resources Defense Council—an influential decision that requires courts to defer to federal...

May 22, 2023

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled last week that a transgender woman from Guatemala did not need to jump through an additional hoop—filing a new motion with the Board of Immigration...

March 30, 2023

Written by Emma Winger and Raul Pinto of the American Immigration Council The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) published a decision last week seeking to address a seemingly basic question: what...

March 17, 2023

Immigration agencies have a problem with transparency. With an immigration system as complex as ours and Freedom of Information Act offices that are chronically underfunded, it’s no surprise that...

February 17, 2023

In December 2022, the Supreme Court stepped in to keep Title 42 (the pandemic health policy that has allowed the United States to carry out over 2.5 million expulsions since March 2020) in effect...

November 30, 2022

The Supreme Court will tackle more hot button immigration issues in its 2022 – 2023 term. Front and center is the Biden administration’s effort to set immigration enforcement priorities. But the...

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