November 05, 2018



As a nation founded by immigrants and built on the rule of law, the United States must balance the challenges of controlling borders and protecting national security with the interests of protecting civil liberties and ensuring due process for immigrants.

As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA has a unique interest in ensuring fairness and due process in the immigration enforcement and adjudication systems. Despite the fact that immigration matters routinely involve issues of life and liberty, the administrative system of justice that exists for immigration matters lacks some of the most basic due process protections and checks and balances that we take for granted in our American system of justice.

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 and fully implementing the ICE National Detention Standards.

What's New

President Trump signed three immigration-related Executive Orders in January 2017.  These orders address border security, interior enforcement, and refugee and other admissions to the United States.  The order restricting the admission of refugees and other noncitizens resulted in confusion and protests at airports around the country, and numerous lawsuits were filed.  On 2/3/17, a federal judge issued a nationwide temporary restraining order against enforcing the order.  On 2/9/17, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the temporary restraining order.

On 3/6/17, President Trump signed a revised version of the Executive Order entitled “Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States,” originally issued on 1/27/17.  The revised version made several changes, which include exempting legal permanent residents and valid visa holders from the ban and providing a number of waivers that can be granted.  However, the revised order still prohibits admission to the United States for individuals from six countries -  Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan - and halts the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for four months.  As with the original order, several states immediately filed suit.  On March 16, federal district courts in Hawaii and Maryland issued rulings to temporarily halt implementation of specific sections of the revised order.  The U.S. Department of Justice has filed an appeal to the Maryland decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.·        

Related Resources

Legislative Status

On January 12, 2017, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced S. 128, the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy Act (BRIDGE Act). A companion bill, H.R. 496, was introduced in the House by Representatives Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL).  This ABA-supported legislation would provide temporary relief from deportation and work authorization to young undocumented individuals who were brought to the United States as children.

Several bills have been introduced that would remove special protections for unaccompanied immigrant children arriving in the United States.  These include: H.R.495, the Protection of Children Act of 2017; H.R.391, the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act; and H.R.120, the Unaccompanied Alien Children Assistance Control Act.  The ABA opposes these bills, and any similar proposals, that would revise the statutory framework for unaccompanied alien children in a manner that would diminish the due process and other protections currently available to them.  The ABA adopted a new policy resolution on this issue on February 6, 2017.

ABA Response

ABA President Linda Klein’s statement on the March 6th revised Executive Order.

Statement of ABA President Linda Klein addressing the Executive Orders on 1/31/17.

ABA President Linda Klein’s remarks to the House of Delegates on 2/6/17.

Op-Ed by ABA President Linda Klein in the Miami Herald 2/8/17.

Policy resolutions adopted by the ABA House of Delegates on 2/6/17:

  • Resolution 10B - Reaffirms and expands existing policy regarding refugees in light of the January 27, 2017 Executive Order, calls for increased funding to process refugee applications, and supports individualized assessments of refugee applications and that they be conducted expeditiously and justly.
  • Resolution 10C – Urges that Executive Oder 13769 be rescinded and that the Administration ensure that any future orders respect Constitutional bounds, adhere to U.S. obligations under international law, not use religion or nationality as a basis for barring an otherwise eligible individual from entry, and facilitate a transparent, accessible, fair, and efficient system of administering the immigration laws and policies of the United States.

ABA Commission on Immigration “Information and Resources on Immigration-Related Executive Orders,” dated 2/10/17.

The ABA, in cooperation with the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Council, created an online portal at  to provide information and help coordinate the efforts of volunteer lawyers assisting immigrants in response to the Executive Orders.

For More Information See:

Immigration Reports, News, Articles and Studies

Primary Resources

Acccess to Counsel One-Pager 

Detention One-Pager

ABA Policy

ABA Entity

ABA Reports 

Committees of Jurisdiction

State Resources 

Legal Orientation Program Sites By State

Immigration Courts in the States 

Immigration Detention in the States 

Additional Resources 


Kristi Gaines

Legislative Counsel

Governmental Affairs Office
American Bar Association
1050 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Direct: (202) 662-1763
FAX: (202) 662-1782