Implementation and enforcement of the immigration laws have a significant impact on both the national security and economic interests of the United States and also have implications for individual civil liberties of those who are present in our country. The last major overhaul of the immigration laws was enacted in 1996 and there is widespread agreement that our immigration system is in dire need of reform.

The ABA supports comprehensive immigration reform that promotes legal immigration based on family reunification and employment skills and that provides for new legal channels for future workers, a path to legal status for much of the undocumented population currently residing in the United States, and enhanced border security.  The ABA supports measures to improve the immigration court system and to increase due process safeguards, including access to counsel, for those in removal proceedings. The ABA opposes mandatory detention of those in removal proceedings, supports alternatives to detention, and supports strengthening the ICE National Detention Standards and promulgating them into enforceable regulations. 

What's New: 

The Senate will vote on final passage of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act on June 27th or June 28th.    Read the ABA’s letter in support of the bill here.

Legislative Status

SENATE: On May 21, 2013, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13-5 to favorably report S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act , as amended, to the Senate floor for consideration.  After nearly two weeks of floor consideration, the Senate is poised to vote on final passage of the bill before recessing for the July 4th state work period. 

HOUSE:  This week, the House Judiciary Committee marked-up two bills, H.R. 1772, the Legal Workforce Act, and H.R. 2131, the SKILLS Visa Act.  Last week, the Committee approved H.R. 2278, the SAFE Act, and H.R. 1773, the Agricultural Guestworker Act.  The House majority leadership has not yet indicated how or whether they will advance this series of individual bills or to if they will put forward a potential comprehensive bill. 

ABA Advocacy

  • On June 26, 2013, the ABA sent a letter to members of the Senate urging them to vote in favor of S. 744. 
  • On June 21, 2013, the ABA sent a letter to the Senate opposing amendments to eliminate or dilute access to counsel provisions in S.744.
  • On June 19, 2013 the ABA sent a letter to members of the Senate supporting Feinstein/Coons Amendment to S. 744 to provide funding for the federal judiciary. 
  • On May 16, 2013, the ABA sent a letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee opposing certain Amendments to S. 744 that would  curtail access to counsel; delay or restrict sorely needed immigration court resources; and eliminate secure alternatives to detention programs and needlessly prolong immigration detention.
  • On March 25, 2013, the ABA filed comments to the Federal Communications Commission regarding Rates for Inmate Calling Services.
  • On February 26, 2013, the ABA filed comments in response to the Department of Homeland Security's proposed astandards to prevent, detect, and respond to sexual abuse and assault in confinement facilities. 
  • On February 13, 2013, the ABA submitted a written statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee advocating for improvements in immigration law and policy, emphasizing issues impacting due process including access to counsel, detention, and court reform and resources.

Reports, News Articles and Studies 

Updated as of: 

April 2013