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.
Programs and Policies
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.
Human Rights and Vulnerable Populations
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.
Combating Violence Against Women
In coordination with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Immigration-Section has led the Department’s effort to develop and implement an outreach strategy to address the harmful traditional practice of female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) (PDF, 8 pages, 263 KB). The strategy reflects the Department's commitment to broaden and enhance the work already underway to end FGM/C in the U.S, and describes the general approach and future actions that DHS plans to undertake to educate key U.S. stakeholders on this practice.
The strategy was developed by a working group co-chaired by the Immigration Section, under the auspices of the DHS Council to Combat Violence Against Women (CCVAW), and fulfills the Government Accountability Office's recommendation that DHS (and other federal agencies) develop a plan that describes the agency's approach for education and outreach to key U.S. stakeholders on FGM/C.
FGM/C is a serious human rights abuse, gender-based violence and, when performed on children, constitutes child abuse. It has no health benefits and can lead to a range of physical and mental health problems. This practice continues to negatively affect millions of women and girls around the world, including in the U.S. In accordance with the U.S. government's position, DHS opposes FGM/C, no matter the type, degree, or severity, and no matter the motivation for performing it. DHS currently works with its interagency partners to end FGM/C and is committed to expanding its existing efforts to raise awareness of the harm it causes, the U.S. laws prohibiting the practice, and the assistance available to women and girls who have undergone or are at risk of FGM/C.
- DHS Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting Outreach Strategy (PDF, 8 pages, 263 KB)
- DHS Council on Combating Violence Against Women Resource Guide
- Continuing to Combat Violence Against Women: Sharing Resources Across the Department, DHS Blog
- Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Confidentiality Provisions at DHS
The Immigration Section also helps lead the Department’s Council on Combatting Violence Against Women (CCVAW) by co-chairing one of the Council’s subcommittees and two of the Council’s working groups. The CCVAW focuses on advancing overall knowledge of and compliance with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA), subsequent reauthorizations of those laws, and related immigration laws and issues, as well as the provision of training and resources to stakeholders and the public as appropriate. Through the Council, the Immigration Section works with other components at DHS to ensure that policies combating violence against women are consistent department-wide. For example, the Immigration Section has spearheaded the CCVAW’s effort to create several new department-wide policies implementing the victim confidentiality provisions found in 8 USC Section 1367.
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.
Public 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. 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, in collaboration with the CRCL Institute, 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.
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