The Department of Homeland Security’s immigration-related programs affect both U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens, including lawful permanent residents, asylum seekers, refugees, non-immigrant and immigrant visa holders, migrant workers, undocumented persons, and persons in detention. 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 Protection (CBP), the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), and other Department offices and components to:
- Incorporate civil rights and civil liberties protections into immigration-related programs, policies, procedures, and operations throughout the Department;
- Communicate with and inform the public about the civil rights and civil liberties implications of Department immigration programs, policies, procedures, and operations; and
- Provide or assist in the development of civil rights and civil liberties training to Department Components.
The CRCL Officer is the designated Department single point of contact for international human rights treaty reporting and coordination under Executive Order 13107. The Immigration Section works with DHS components to develop and advance protective policies, procedures, and training for victims of torture and persecution, battered immigrants, trafficked persons, and other needing special attention. The Section is a longstanding, active member of the DHS Blue Campaign and plays an integral role in developing human trafficking training for a wide variety of audiences, including state and local law enforcement.
DHS is committed to combatting gender-based violence integrating protections for all individuals in our policies, programs, and activities across the Department. Gender-based violence (GBV) is defined as any harmful threat or act directed at an individual or group based on their actual or perceived:
- Biological sex;
- Gender identity;
- Gender expression;
- Sexual orientation; or
- Difference from social norms related to masculinity or femininity
GBV can include physical, sexual, psychological, technological, economic, and emotional abuse. It is rooted in structural gender inequalities, coercive control, and power imbalances.
The Department addresses GBV though the DHS Council on Combatting Gender-Based Violence (formerly the Council on Combatting Violence Against Women), which works with DHS Components to ensure that policies to combat GBV are consistent across the Department. The CRCL Officer is a permanent co-chair of the Council, along with two-chairs appointed by the Secretary (the Chief of USCIS’ Office of Policy and Strategy and the DHS Assistant Secretary for Partnership and Engagement).
The Immigration Section works collaboratively with DHS Headquarters and Components on the following programs and policies:
Conditions of Immigration Detention
The Immigration Section works with ICE to design and implement policies, procedures, and guidance to protect the civil and human rights of immigrant detainees while fulfilling the DHS mission. Reforms have included: an online detainee locator system; immigration detention policy; policy safeguarding parental interests; improved risk assessment tools; the development of guidance on the care of transgender detainees in ICE custody; monitoring use of segregation in detention; and revising ICE’s detention standards, including the Performance-Based National Detention Standards, the Family Residential Standards, and the National Detention Standards.
Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA): The Immigration Section and Compliance Branch work with ICE and CBP to implement sexual abuse prevention and response policies and procedures under DHS’s Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Sexual Abuse and Assault in Confinement Facilities (DHS PREA). CRCL is coordinating the development of the audit instruments and methodology that will be used to audit ICE’s immigration detention facilities and ICE’s and CBP’s holding facilities under DHS PREA.
Verification and Matching Programs
The Department provides verification services and matching programs to employers, benefit granting agencies, voting registrars, and licensing agencies, among other entities. These entities use the information from the Department to determine an individual’s eligibility for essential fundamental rights and privileges, including to vote and to work, and to receive essential public benefits, and business and driver’s licenses. The Immigration Section actively reviews these programs to ensure that individuals are treated fairly and in a non-discriminatory manner. This includes ensuring that individuals are provided appropriate notice of their rights and responsibilities with respect to the verification or match, due process for mismatches, and complaint avenues for discriminatory or improper verification; that employers and matching agencies understand their responsibility to follow program rules, and to programs in a non-discriminatory and proper manner; and that DHS provides proper training and monitors use to ensure that its verification and matching programs are used in an appropriate manner. The Immigration Section works closely with USCIS, ICE, and the Department of Justice’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section, to address civil rights, civil liberties, and discrimination concerns, and to clarify employee protections and employer obligations related to E-Verify and the Form I-9, and in the worksite enforcement context. The Section also works closely with DHS’s Office of Policy and Office of General Counsel, and with TSA on REAL ID implementation.
The Immigration Section also participates in the Department’s Immigration Data Initiative, a new Department effort to improve the quality, timeliness and utility of DHS immigration statistical data and analysis.
Labor, Employment, and Immigration Enforcement
The Immigration Section participated in the Interagency Working Group for the Consistent Enforcement of Federal Labor, Employment and Immigration Laws comprised of the Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and National Labor Relations Board. The Interagency Working Group's goals are to enhance coordination in those cases where federal responsibilities to enforce labor, employment, and immigration laws may overlap; to ensure that workers who cooperate with labor and employment enforcement may continue to do so without fear of retaliation; to ensure that unscrupulous parties do not attempt to misuse immigration enforcement or labor laws to thwart or manipulate worker protections or labor and immigration enforcement; and to ensure the effective enforcement of these laws.
Immigration Enforcement Programs and Partnerships
The Immigration Section works with ICE on immigration enforcement programs, including its programs that leverage state and local law enforcement agencies, such as Secure Communities and the Immigration and Nationality Act section 287(g) program. CRCL has a voting seat on ICE’s 287(g) Program Advisory Board. The Section has worked with ICE to develop policies and procedures to ensure that participating 287(g) jurisdictions and appropriate ICE officials meet at least annually with interested community members, and that ICE considers civil rights and civil liberties issues when determining whether to accept new jurisdictions into the 287(g) program (including when screening state and local officers who are nominated to participate in the program). The Immigration Section also participated in drafting the 287(g) Memorandum of Agreement and in training ICE Office of Professional Responsibility officers who audit the 287(g) program.
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. The Section also facilitates dialogue between government agencies and immigration and civil rights organizations.
For example, the CRCL Officer meets quarterly with the NGO Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Committee. 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. CRCL welcomes expressions of interest from additional stakeholders to participate in the NGO Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Committee or to otherwise engage with us.
The Immigration Section actively reviews and creates training products for the public and for the Department covering diverse topics that include: human trafficking, Violence Against Women Act, immigrant relief, vulnerable populations, limited English proficiency, and enforcement of immigration law by state and local law enforcement agencies. In addition, the Section has presented at professional conferences and other events. The Immigration Section has provided subject matter expertise to the American Bar Association Section on Labor & Employment Law Annual Conference, various affiliates of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, USCIS staff supporting the E-Verify program, ICE Victim-Witness Assistance Coordinators, the DOJ Office of Immigrant and Employee Rights, and USCIS Community Relations Officers.
Asylum Seekers Overview
The Asylum Seekers Overview online and CD-ROM-based training gives Department law enforcement personnel essential information related to asylum seekers. The course serves as a resource to support the Department's commitment to securing America while providing established protections for asylum seekers.
Guidance Regarding the Use of Race for Law Enforcement Officers
The Guidance Regarding the Use of Race for Law Enforcement Officers course, about the Department of Justice (DOJ) racial profiling guidance, was produced by the U.S. Secret Service and reiterates the Department of Homeland Security's commitment to race neutrality in law enforcement activities.
USCIS and CRCL co-produced educational videos for workers and employers to help ensure the fair and non-discriminatory use of E-Verify. Many employers use E-Verify, a federal government program that checks government databases, to confirm the accuracy of the information provided by new hires during completion of the Form I-9.
The Employee Rights and Responsibilities video emphasizes the rights of employees when employers use E-Verify. The video describes an employee’s right to contest and correct an initial mismatch without suffering any adverse job action, such as loss of pay or training, or termination or suspension. The video also provides important contact information for employees to obtain assistance and to file complaints alleging misuse or unlawful discrimination. This video is available in English and Spanish. An abbreviated English version is also now available.
The Employer Responsibilities and Workers Rights video, aimed at employers, makes clear the employer’s responsibility to use E-Verify properly and in a non-discriminatory manner. The video highlights best practices and areas where potential problems may arise, including the issuance and resolution of initial mismatches.
By Mail or Phone
Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
2707 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, SE
Mail Stop #0190
Washington, D.C. 20528-0190
Toll Free: 1-866-644-8360
Toll Free TTY: 1-866-644-8361