Immigration Courts

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 Immigration Courts Content

Publication Date: 
May 15, 2013
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, immigration courts have failed to provide...
Publication Date: 
June 11, 2012
In August 2011, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would review more than 300,000 pending removal proceedings to identify low-priority cases meriting favorable exercises of...
Publication Date: 
September 1, 2006
Access to an independent judiciary with the power to hold the government accountable in its dealings with individuals is a founding principle of the United States. In contrast, imagine a system...
Publication Date: 
December 1, 2003
Children who travel unaccompanied to the United States experience not only the trauma of family separation and the frequently predatory behavior of the traffickers who bring them, but also harsh...

The American Immigration Council filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) seeking information relating to the expansion and...

This FOIA lawsuit sought information from the EOIR on the Institutional Hearing Program (IHP), which it runs jointly with ICE and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).
We filed a FOIA request seeking statistical information, as well as policies and guidance, regarding Board of Immigration Appeals standards for issuing stays of removal. Because the government failed to respond, we're filing a lawsuit.

The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)—the...

Publication Date: 
February 19, 2018
In the case, Attorney General Jeff Sessions referred to himself questions related to administrative closure. This move by Sessions could signal an attempt to end administrative closure altogether—which could force over 350,000 immigrants back into immigration court, exacerbating the challenges of an already overburdened immigration court system.
This lawsuit challenges the actions of immigration judges in Charlotte, North Carolina who have refused to conduct bond hearings for people who properly file bond motions with the Charlotte Immigration Court.
This lawsuit challenged obstacles faced by asylum-seekers in satisfying the statutory requirement that they apply for asylum within one year of entering the United States.
Publication Date: 
August 17, 2015
The Council submitted an amicus brief arguing that immigration judges’ duty to develop the record is particularly important in pro se litigants’ cases, and that this duty requires immigration judges to provide noncitizens with information about the types of relief they are seeking and to actively elicit relevant information. For more information about this topic, contact the Council's legal department.
Publication Date: 
April 16, 2015
The Council and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild submitted an amicus brief in support of rehearing addressing immigration judges’ duty, in pro se cases, to fully inform litigants of the consequences of their legal decisions and to ensure that any waivers of appeal are knowing and intelligent. The Ninth Circuit denied the petition for rehearing in a non-precedent decision. For more information on this topic, contact the Council's legal department.
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: 
December 1, 2015
The immigration courts’ unprecedented backlogs are creating procedural and substantive challenges for attorneys trying to comply with the One-Year Filing Deadline (OYFD) in asylum cases. This Practice Advisory discusses strategies and procedures for complying with the OYFD.
Publication Date: 
February 5, 2014
The American Immigration Council’s Practice Advisory, Employment Authorization and Asylum: Strategies to Avoid Stopping the Asylum Clock, has been updated to reflect extensive changes to the manner in which the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) determine an asylum applicant’s eligibility for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Publication Date: 
November 20, 2013

This Practice Advisory discusses the "departure bar" to motions to reopen and arguments adopted by circuit courts that have rejected or upheld the bar.

Publication Date: 
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.
Publication Date: 
December 21, 2012
This Practice Advisory contains practical and legal suggestions for individuals seeking to return to the United States after they have prevailed on a petition for review or an administrative motion to reopen or reconsider to the immigration court or Board of Immigration Appeals.
Publication Date: 
June 12, 2012
This Practice Advisory discusses Dent v. Holder, requiring the government to turn over copies of documents in an A-file where removability is contested, and offers strategies for making document requests pursuant to the INA and due process.
Publication Date: 
April 29, 2011

This Practice Advisory discusses the procedures and requirements for filing a petition for rehearing, rehearing en banc or hearing en banc in the court of appeals.

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.
April 7, 2022

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a long-awaited memo on Sunday to guide ICE attorneys on exercising their prosecutorial discretion in immigration court. Authored by ICE’s...

February 15, 2022

Immigrants and their representatives will gain access to decisions of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) that were not publicly available. As a result of a settlement of a lawsuit filed by the...

February 3, 2022

Immigration courts will soon take a big step into the digital age. On February 11, 2022, immigration attorneys, accredited representatives, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) lawyers, will...

January 20, 2022

When the Biden administration announced a new “dedicated docket” in immigration court for families seeking asylum at the border, many advocates raised concerns that the docket would forgo due...

December 17, 2021

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) issued a memorandum last month providing guidance to immigration judges about administrative closure—a critical tool for docket management and...

November 11, 2021

Research has long shown that access to a lawyer is one of the most important factors that determines whether an immigrant in removal proceedings will be able to remain in the United States. A new...

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...

January 22, 2015

Washington, D.C.—Recently, the U.S.

August 1, 2014

Washington D.C. – The American Immigration Council, American Civil Liberties Union, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public

July 9, 2014
The American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public Counsel, and K&L Gates LLP today filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of children who are challenging the federal government's failure to provide them with legal representation as it carries out deportation hearings against them.
October 1, 2013

Washington, D.C. - Last week, the First Circuit Court of Appeals held that individuals who have been depor

June 6, 2013

Washington, DC - The public has a right to know whether the government adequately investigates and resolves complaints alleging misconduct by immigration judges, the American Immig

May 15, 2013

Washington D.C. - Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee continues mark-up of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.

November 28, 2012

The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center argued that local police violated the Fourth Amendment by unnecessarily prolonging an individual’s detention based solely on the suspicion tha

November 13, 2012

Washington, D.C.—Last Friday, the U.S.

Last modified: 
November 24, 2022
Publication Date: 
November 1, 2022
This Practice Advisory provides information for filing a delay action in federal district court under the Mandamus Act and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) for an asylum applicant who is awaiting an interview or a final decision on their affirmative asylum claim. It discusses the required elements of a successful APA and mandamus actions and jurisdictional hurdles. The advisory also addresses asylum-specific case law and arguments, including USCIS’s use of the “Last-In, First-Out” processing and statistics showing the growing asylum backlog.
This Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeks records from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) about its practice of moving up the date of immigrants’ individual hearings with little to no notice to their lawyers.
October 13, 2022
Several legal services organizations filed a lawsuit today against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for unlawfully preventing attorneys from communicating with immigrants detained in four detention facilities in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Arizona.
January 31, 2024

Immigrants are now far more likely to face the complexities of the immigration court system alone, without an attorney. As of December 2023, only 30% of immigrants with pending cases have secured...

January 18, 2024

A new memo issued last month by the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) lays out improved guidelines for immigration court cases involving children. The memo is a welcome acknowledgment...

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,...

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...

October 27, 2022

Every year at the end of October, legal service providers come together to celebrate Pro Bono Week. It is a dedicated opportunity to acknowledge the amazing work that our volunteers do—work that...

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