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, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, 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 DHS Components.
Programs and Policies
The Immigration Section works collaboratively with DHS Headquarters and Components on the following programs and policies:
Combating Violence Against Women
CRCL has worked with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and other DHS Components to develop an outreach strategy to address the harmful traditional practice of female genital mutilation or cutting (FMG/C) (PDF, 8 pages, 263 KB). The strategy reflects the Department's commitment to broaden and enhance the work already underway to end FMG/C in the U.S, and describes the general approach and future actions that DHS plans to undertake too educate key U.S. stakeholders on this practice.
FMG/C is a serious human rights abuse, gender-based violence and, when done to children, 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 FMG/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 FMG/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 FMG/C.
The strategy was developed through the DHS Council to Combat Violence Against Women, 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 FMG/C.
- Read the DHS Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting Outreach Strategy (PDF, 8 pages, 263 KB)
- Read the 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
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. We also offer civil rights and civil liberties training for detention services managers.
Verification Databases and Programs
E-Verify and the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) programs can impact 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 DHS Components, and other federal agencies – such as the Department of Justice (DOJ) 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 DHS Component to develop and advance protective policies, procedures, and training for victims of torture and persecution, battered immigrants, trafficked persons, and others needing special attention. We play an integral role in developing human trafficking training for state and law enforcement.
Priority Enforcement Program
We monitor and address civil rights and civil liberties concerns for the transfer of individuals in custody of state or local law enforcement to ICE.
State and Local Enforcement Programs
We work closely with ICE to monitor its various partnerships with state and local law enforcement.
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.
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.
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, 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 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 DOJ 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