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2018-2020 Updates


  • Learn about the Impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. Immigration System
    • The Commission on Immigration has been compiled summaries of developments in the immigration system related to COVID-19 through the end of 2020. Read more...
  • ABA asks Supreme Court to stop expedited removal of noncitizens without judicial review
    • Jan. 22, 2020 — The American Bar Association filed an amicus brief today with the U.S. Supreme Court, urging the justices to declare that asylum-seekers are entitled to federal court review of expedited removal orders. Read more...
  • ABA Submits Comments to the Executive Office for Immigration Review on Procedures for Asylum and Bars to Eligibility
    • On January 21, 2020, ABA President Judy Perry Martinez submitted comments to the Executive Office for Immigration Review regarding a proposed rule that would create additional barriers to asylum eligibility based on criminal history. Read more…
  • ABA Submits Comments to the Department of Homeland Security on Asylum Rule
    • On January 13, 2020, ABA President Judy Perry Martinez submitted comments to the Department of Homeland Security in response to a proposed rulemaking that would restrict certain asylum seekers’ ability to obtain work authorization. Read more…


  • ABA Submits Comments to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services on Fee Schedule
    • On December 30, 2019, ABA President Judy Perry Martinez submitted comments to the Department of Homeland Security's Office of U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services in response to a proposed rule revising the fee schedule for certain immigration benefits. Read more…
  • ABA Submits Comments to the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services on Implementing Bilateral and Multilateral Asylum Cooperative Agreements
    • On December 19, 2019, the ABA submitted comments to the Department of Homeland Security's Office of U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services in response to USCIS-2019-0021, EOIR Docket No. 19-0021, the Interim Final Rule and Request for Comment on Implementing Bilateral and Multilateral Asylum Cooperative Agreements Under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Read more...
  • Meet the heroes of the Children's Immigration Law Academy
    • This December 1st, 2019 Houstonia article features the amazing work of the ABA's Children's Immigration Law Academy. 
    • Visit CILA's website to learn more.

  • ABA Counsel Testifies to the House Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation, & Operations
    • On November 19, 2019, Laura Peña, the Commission on Immigration's Pro Bono Counsel, testified in a hearing titled "Examining the Human Rights and Legal Implications of DHS' 'Remain in Mexico' Policy."
    • Read Laura Peña's written testimony here.
  • Women Lawyers Lead ABA’s Efforts to Ensure Due Process for Migrants 
    • This November 19, 2019 article from the ABA's Commission On Women in the Profession highlights the Commission on Immigration's three dynamic and inspiring project directors who have devoted their careers to advocating for the migrant community.
From L-R: Adela Mason (IJP), Kimi Jackson (ProBAR), Dalia Castillo-Granados (CILA)

From L-R: Adela Mason (IJP), Kimi Jackson (ProBAR), Dalia Castillo-Granados (CILA)

  • ABA Comments on Proposed Special Immigrant Juvenile Classification Amendments
    • On November 15th, ABA President Judy Perry Martinez submitted comments to the Office of Policy and Strategy for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on the proposed rule to amend the regulations governing the Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) classification and related application for adjustment of status to permanent resident. Read more...
Say cheese! An all-staff photo at ProBAR's 30th Anniversary Celebration.

Say cheese! An all-staff photo at ProBAR's 30th Anniversary Celebration.

  • ABA president to reporters: Immigration system is in crisis
    • September 27th, 2019 -- ABA President Judy Perry Martinez makes the case for an independent immigration court system – free from the control of the Justice Department – to reporters at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Read more...
  • American Bar Association President Meets Asylum Seekers In Rio Grande Valley
    • A September 5, 2019 article from Texas Public Radio documenting ABA President Judy Perry Martinez's experiences in the Rio Grande Valley.
  • The Case That Made an Ex-ICE Attorney Realize the Government Was Relying on False “Evidence” Against Migrants
    • An August 13, 2019 ProPublica article featuring the Commission on Immigration's Pro Bono Counsel, Laura Peña.
  • Amid “nightmarish” case backlog, experts call for independent immigration courts 
  • With congressional seats at stake, officials detail big push for census participation
    • Census officials and advocates for immigrant populations, communities of color and the homeless are launching unprecedented efforts to spur participation in the 2020 census, they said at an Aug. 9 panel discussion at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting in San Francisco.
      Read more from ABA News...
  • New website connects pro bono lawyers with young immigrants
    • July 29, 2019 -- The American Bar Association and two partners just made it easier for volunteer lawyers to help child immigrants facing deportation. Lawyers can search for cases in their city and state on a new online platform operated by the ABA Children’s Immigration Law Academy (CILA). Read more...
  • Statement of ABA President Bob Carlson, re: Detention of immigrant children in poor conditions
    • June 25, 2019 – The American Bar Association is appalled by credible reports of hundreds of children being held in unsafe and unhealthy conditions in violation of federal and state law, court settlements and common decency. Read more...
  • Statement of ABA President Bob Carlson re: Legal and education service cuts for unaccompanied migrant youth
    • June 7, 2019 – The American Bar Association is deeply disturbed by the government’s recent decision to cut off funding for legal aid, English classes and recreational activities such as soccer for the unaccompanied migrant children who are staying in federally contracted shelters. Read more...
  • Statement of ABA President Bob Carlson Re: DHS proposal on immigrant children
    • April 1, 2019 – The American Bar Association strongly opposes the proposal by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen to change the nation’s immigration laws to allow for expedited deportation of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum and the detention of families until their asylum cases are decided. Read more...
  • Commission finds immigration reform desperately needed; major report coming this spring
    • February 1, 2019 -- Nine years ago, immigration experts from the American Bar Association issued a major report detailing flaws in the immigration justice system and recommending changes to make it fairer and more effective. The result? “Anyone who reads the newspaper knows that things are not substantially better,” said Karen Grisez, a member of the ABA Commission on Immigration and special counsel at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. Now, after more than two years of work, the commission will publish a major new report this spring, updating the 2010 recommendations. Commission members and the report’s authors previewed their findings Jan. 26 at the ABA’s Midyear Meeting in Las Vegas. Read more...
  • Immigrant and refugee rights should be protected, ABA House urges
    • January 28, 2019 -- Delegates to the ABA's House of Delegates lined up Monday afternoon to condemn the federal government's "zero tolerance" policy for people caught crossing the border illegally. Resolution 109A, jointly sponsored by the Criminal Justice Section and the Commission on Immigration, urges the U.S. attorney general to stop mass “zero tolerance” prosecutions of those immigrants. Read more from the ABA Journal...


  • Statement of Bob Carlson, ABA president Re: Improving the U.S. immigration system
    • November 27, 2018 -- As tensions escalate on the Mexican border, the American Bar Association urges Congress and the White House to craft a comprehensive, peaceful resolution to our nation’s immigration challenges and to devote more resources to alleviate the backlog of asylum claims on the border and in United States’ immigration courts. Read more...
  • ABA President Bob Carlson sends letter to ICE rejecting changes to Flores settlement
  • ABA Legal Fact Check explores the debate over Presidential Executive Orders and Birthright Citizenship
    • November 5, 2018 -- President Donald Trump kicked off a recent debate when he claimed he can use an executive order to end citizenship that is automatically granted to U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants. “They’re saying I can do it just with an executive order,” he said, in an interview with the news site Axios. His position met strong opposition, including from influential members of his own Republican party. “You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said flatly. Who’s right? Read more from ABA Legal Fact Check...
  • Statement of ABA President Bob Carlson Re: Immigration lawyers and judges
    • Sept. 11, 2018 — The American Bar Association applauds the work of lawyers who help assure fairness and due process in our nation’s immigration courts. During a visit last month to the border in Texas, I was very impressed by their hard work in difficult circumstances. Our Constitution guarantees certain rights to all people in the United States, including men, women and children who come here to escape lawlessness and violence in their home countries. Read more...
  • ABA President travels to South Texas, working to fulfill ABA's promise to reunite families
    • August 30, 2018 -- Two months ago, then-ABA president Hilarie Bass went to South Texas to see the effects of the Trump administration’s family separation policy. There, she promised that the ABA would not stop working until every family was reunited and every detainee was given the due process they’re legally entitled to. This week, newly installed ABA president Robert Carlson took a step toward fulfilling that promise, traveling to South Texas to do pro bono work for asylum seekers through the ABA’s South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project. Read more from the ABA Journal...

Tempest Tossed: Conversations on Migration and Mobility 

  • July 25, 2018 -- Tempest Tossed: Conversations on Migration and Mobility from the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility is a new podcast on immigration and refugees that goes beyond the predictable soundbites. Join Commission on Immigration member Alex Aleinikoff and guests for in-depth discussion on what's happening on the ground and how to understand current policy debates. 

Statement of Hilarie Bass, ABA president Re: Executive Order on separation of children at the border

  • June 20, 2018 — The American Bar Association is pleased that the administration has decided to stop the inhumane and untenable policy of separating immigrant children from their parents. We call on the government to expeditiously and efficiently reunite families and minimize any further harm to the children. The ABA pledges its full support in working within the legal community to make this happen. Read more...

Two immigrant moms seeking asylum speak on how DHS tore them from their children at the border

  • June 2, 2018 -- CNN's Gary Tuchman shares the story of two moms who crossed the border into the United States asking for asylum. They are now being held in a California immigration detention center, but have been separated from their children
    See interview from Anderson Cooper 360.

Commission on Immigration member Dora Schriro's Newsweek Op-Ed "MS-13: Children Aren't Lining Up at the Mexican Border to Join Gangs"

  • May 8, 2018 -- Thousands of children have traveled north from Central America, with their mothers when they could, and alone when they could not, to flee gang-sponsored violence in their countries. They made their way to the southwest border of the United States, knocking on our golden door, seeking protection.
    Read more from Newsweek...

Commission on Immigration Associate Director Tanisha Bowens-McCatty featured in the ABA Journal article, "Increased enforcement of immigration laws raises scam risk." 

  • May 1, 2018 -- “The problems that we see people are facing on the ground are not necessarily immigration problems,” Bowens-McCatty says. “We really need attorneys that have experience in civil court, in criminal court or experience sort of walking through complex matters.”
    Read more from the ABA Journal...

The Legal Orientation Program will remain funded!

  • April 25, 2018 — The American Bar Association applauds the Justice Department’s decision today to continue funding the Legal Orientation Program for detained immigrants while it evaluates the program’s cost effectiveness. Earlier this month, the department announced it would suspend the program effective April 30 while the study was being conducted. We are pleased that today’s action reverses that decision. Read more of President Bass' statement...

ABA President Hilarie Bass testifies to Senate subcommittee about immigration courts

  • April 18, 2018 — Hilarie Bass, president of the American Bar Association, is scheduled to testify today before the Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration of the Senate Judiciary Committee about “Strengthening and Reforming America’s Immigration Court System.” Read more...
  • Read ABA President Hilarie Bass' full testimony.

Migration and displacement, focus of ABA Rule of Law conference in Washington, D.C.