How the Immigration System Works

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.

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All How the Immigration System Works Content

June 8, 2021
This fact sheet provides an overview of how Temporary Protected Status designations are made, what benefits TPS confers, and how TPS beneficiaries apply for and regularly renew their status.
June 12, 2020
Current U.S. immigration law provides several paths for foreign workers to enter the United States for employment purposes on a temporary or permanent basis. This fact sheet provides basic...
June 11, 2018
Some confusion exists regarding the economic aspects of family-based immigration. To help unpack those aspects, this report focuses on one of them—namely, the earnings of family-based immigrants.
November 13, 2017
This fact sheet provides an overview of the diversity visa program, the requirements and security checks currently in place, and demographic information about recipients.
March 21, 2017
This fact sheet explains detainers, how they are used by federal and local enforcement, and the impact they have on immigrants.
December 14, 2015

Americans pride themselves on belonging to a nation of immigrants. In fact, many Americans celebrate not only the traditions of the United States, but the traditions of the countries from which...

June 19, 2013
One of the themes that emerged from the Senate Judiciary Committee mark up of the 2013 Senate immigration bill was the necessity of avoiding the mistakes of the past. In the context of legalization...
April 12, 2011
In its second year under the Obama Administration, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—which is responsible for the nation’s three immigration agencies (USCIS, CBP, and ICE)—continues to...
January 1, 2010
While some characterize our immigration crisis as solely an issue of the 11 to 12 million unauthorized...
November 9, 2009
From the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, immigrants have made significant contributions to the United States by serving in our military forces. Today, immigrants...
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.
October 6, 2020

This document provides a summary of the Department of Homeland Security's September 25, 2020, Proposed Rule, "...

September 15, 2020
This new rule will increase the total number of people who are required to submit biometric data from 3.9 million currently to 6.07 million—an increase of more than 60%.
July 29, 2020

The American Immigration Council submitted a written statement to the House Committee on Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship for a July 29, 2020 hearing on "Oversight of U....

July 16, 2019
The statement highlights the Council’s concerns regarding systemic U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services delays in responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
May 18, 2021

President Biden revoked a proclamation issued by former President Trump in 2019 that required nearly all prospective immigrants to demonstrate that they would be covered by private health...

March 15, 2021

The Biden administration must improve transparency in the U.S. immigration system. Such efforts go hand in hand with strengthening democratic institutions. Under the Freedom of Information Act (...

January 21, 2021

During his campaign, President Biden promised that immigration reform would be one of his top priorities upon taking office. After unveiling the summary of a sweeping immigration reform bill on...

December 2, 2020

As the Biden-Harris administration prepares to take office, many anxiously await what immigration policies the Trump administration will finalize in the lead up to Inauguration Day in the form of...

November 17, 2020

Lawful permanent residents seeking to become U.S. citizens will now be required to take a more difficult and longer citizenship test. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced...

November 12, 2020

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.  President-elect Joe Biden’s plan on...

October 21, 2020

The application fee to apply for U.S. citizenship was due to rise from $640 to $1170 on October 2. Though the fee hike was temporarily blocked in federal court, this is not the first time U.S....

October 12, 2020

The effort to permanently replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day signifies a growing movement to honor the resilience and history of indigenous communities. The day presents an...

October 7, 2020

The Department of Homeland Security has proposed a rule that would make it much more difficult for U.S. citizens and legal immigrants—especially those experiencing financial hardship—to sponsor...

August 26, 2020

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) told Congress in May that it was running out of money and would need a $1.2 billion bailout to maintain its operations without major disruptions....

June 12, 2018
Through analysis of data from the decennial census and administrative data from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, this special report examines the earnings gains over time of all immigrants, as well as the earnings gains experienced by family-based immigrants compared to employment-based immigrants.
June 8, 2021
This fact sheet provides an overview of how Temporary Protected Status designations are made, what benefits TPS confers, and how TPS beneficiaries apply for and regularly renew their status.
May 18, 2021

President Biden revoked a proclamation issued by former President Trump in 2019 that required nearly all prospective immigrants to demonstrate that they would be covered by private health...

March 15, 2021

The Biden administration must improve transparency in the U.S. immigration system. Such efforts go hand in hand with strengthening democratic institutions. Under the Freedom of Information Act (...

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.
January 21, 2021

During his campaign, President Biden promised that immigration reform would be one of his top priorities upon taking office. After unveiling the summary of a sweeping immigration reform bill on...

January 15, 2021
The Biden administration should take steps immediately upon entering office to expand federally funded legal representation programs for people facing removal. Here's why.
December 2, 2020

As the Biden-Harris administration prepares to take office, many anxiously await what immigration policies the Trump administration will finalize in the lead up to Inauguration Day in the form of...

November 17, 2020

Lawful permanent residents seeking to become U.S. citizens will now be required to take a more difficult and longer citizenship test. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced...

November 12, 2020

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.  President-elect Joe Biden’s plan on...

October 21, 2020

The application fee to apply for U.S. citizenship was due to rise from $640 to $1170 on October 2. Though the fee hike was temporarily blocked in federal court, this is not the first time U.S....

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