U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, asylum seekers, refugees, non-immigrant and immigrant visa holders, migrant workers, undocumented persons, and persons in detention are all affected by the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration-related programs.
The Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) Immigration Section works collaboratively with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), and other Department offices to:
- Ensure that civil and human rights and civil liberties protections are incorporated into immigration-related programs, policies, procedures, and operations throughout the Department;
- Communicate with and inform the public about the civil and human rights and civil liberties implications of Department immigration programs, policies, procedures, and operations – including individual rights and responsibilities; and
- Provide civil and human rights and civil liberties training to Department component agencies.
Immigration Programs and Policies
Some of the main Department programs and policies on which the Immigration Section works collaboratively with Department Headquarters and its component agencies include:
- Conditions of Immigration Detention: We work with ICE to design and implement reforms that better protect the civil and human rights of immigrant detainees. Reforms include: an online detainee locator system, enhanced alternatives to detention policy, improved risk assessment tools, better medical care and medical classification of detainees, and the Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS). We also offer civil rights and civil liberties training for detention services managers. For more information about immigration detention, visit: www.ice.gov/pi/dro/facilities.htm.
- Verification Databases and Programs: E-Verify and the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) programs can impact upon an individual’s ability to work and an individual’s eligibility for public benefits at the local, state, and federal levels. We actively review these programs, outreach products, and system design. We have co-produced educational videos and written outreach material for employers and workers about E-Verify.
- Employment and Immigration Issues: We engage with stakeholders, work with Department component agencies, and other federal agencies – such as the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division – to troubleshoot issues at the intersection of immigration enforcement and the protection of civil rights and civil liberties protections for those who work in the United States.
- Human Rights and Vulnerable Populations: CRCL is the designated Department point of contact for international human rights treaty reporting and coordination under Executive Order 13107. We work closely with federal agencies and departments to ensure that human rights are considered in policy and programs. We work with Department component agencies to develop and advance protective policies, procedures, and training for victims of torture and persecution, battered immigrants, trafficked persons, and others needing special attention. For example, we are active participants in the Department-wide committee on trafficking issues led by a senior advisor to the Secretary. Through one of this committee's subgroups, we continue to play an integral role in developing a curriculum for training on human trafficking that will be provided to local and state law enforcement.
- State and Local Enforcement Programs: We work closely with ICE to monitor its various partnerships with state and local law enforcement, including Secure Communities, the 287(g) program, and the Criminal Alien Program (CAP). In particular, we assisted in the revision of the model 287(g) Memorandum of Agreement, and we serve on a selection committee with ICE that reviews applicants for the 287(g) program. For more information on these programs, visit ICE's Office of State, Local and Tribal Coordination.
- Access to Department Program and Activities: We work across the Department to ensure that individuals encountering language, cultural, and literacy barriers can fully access Department activities, including immigration proceedings, detention information, and disaster relief services. For more information about federal limited English proficiency (LEP) programs, visit: www.lep.gov.
Immigration Section Engagement and Outreach
The Immigration Section engages with the public about the civil and human rights and civil liberties implications of Department immigration programs, policies, procedures, and operations. We also facilitate dialogue between government agencies and immigration and civil rights organizations. Our work includes:
- Quarterly NGO Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Committee Meeting: This Committee includes representatives from over 20 civil society organizations. Assisted by extensive grassroots networks, Committee members articulate the perspectives of organizations and communities across the country concerning civil and human rights issues. The CRCL Officer meets quarterly with the Committee to identify systemic and policy concerns.
- Border Community Engagement: We have led the Department in promoting dialogue with border stakeholders on issues such as short term hold room policies, migrant deaths, and complaints issues.
- Emergency Incident Response Coordination: Following events of national significance, including hurricanes, wildfires, and large-scale immigration enforcement actions, the Immigration Section often convenes Incident Response Coordination conference calls. These calls bring together local and national civil society representatives with Department officials to share information, promote cooperation with authorities, and troubleshoot issues related to immigration or civil rights that may arise in the context of a natural disaster or other emergency.
Immigration Section Training
In conjunction with CRCL’s training section, the CRCL Institute, the Immigration Section actively reviews and creates training products for the public and for the Department. We cover topics as diverse as:
- Human Trafficking
- Violence Against Women Act Immigrant Relief
- Vulnerable Populations
- Limited English Proficiency
- Verification-related Civil Rights Issues
- State and Local Enforcement of Immigration Law
In addition, we present several times a year at professional conferences and other events. We have provided subject matter expertise to the American Bar Association (ABA) Section on Labor & Employment Law Annual Conference, various affiliates of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the E-Verify outreach unit, ICE Victim-Witness Assistance Coordinators, the Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, and the USCIS Community Relations Officers. We also brief Congressional staff on Department-related immigration programs and associated civil rights and civil liberties issues.
By mail or phone:
Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Building 410, Mail Stop #0190
Washington, D.C. 20528
Toll Free: 1-866-644-8360
Toll Free TTY: 1-866-644-8361