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Enforcement and Litigation


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Through its close client engagement and specialized legal advice and counsel, Enforcement and Litigation (E&L) advances ICE’s homeland security mission by enforcing the nation’s immigration, customs and criminal laws and policies, defending the operational authorities and decisions of ICE agents and officers in federal court and guiding and supporting the advocacy of ICE attorneys before the immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals. Within the portfolio are several specialized Divisions, which are described below.

District Court Litigation Division (DCLD)

The attorneys in the District Court Litigation Division serve as agency counsel and manage federal civil litigation cases filed against ICE.  They provide oral and written advice to ICE leadership and employees regarding potential litigation risks and work closely with the Department of Justice to advocate for and ensure that ICE’s interests are well-represented in litigation.  Federal litigation responsibilities include strategy, motion practice, discovery and settlement negotiations.  These cases range from common-law tort suits, suits seeking money damages against ICE employees in their individual capacities, and claims seeking to enjoin ICE from enforcing certain laws or policies.  These attorneys also adjudicate administrative claims for personal injuries and property damage pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act.

Homeland Security Investigations Law Division (HSILD)

Through specialized legal advice, training, and litigation support, Homeland Security Investigations Law Division’s three sections (the Criminal Law Section, Human Rights Law Section and National Security Law Section) advance ICE’s efforts to investigate and prosecute those who threaten our national security or violate our customs and immigration laws, while working to combat human smuggling and trafficking and deny safe haven in the United States to perpetrators of human rights abuses abroad.

The Criminal Law Section provides customs law and criminal law advice to ICE Homeland Security Investigations and the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility on a wide range of topics, including financial crimes, asset forfeiture, the repatriation of cultural property, confidential informants and undercover operations, intellectual property rights, cybercrime, child exploitation, export enforcement, identity and benefit fraud, international law enforcement cooperation, search and seizure law and worksite enforcement.

The Human Rights Law Section provides specialized legal advice to agency personnel on human smuggling and trafficking matters.  They work with a wide range of government, non-governmental, advocacy, and international stakeholders, to ensure that human rights abusers and war criminals are denied asylum, lawful permanent residence, citizenship and other immigration benefits.

The National Security Law Section provides oversight and support for immigration removal proceedings and criminal prosecutions involving terrorists and foreign intelligence agents and works with other DHS components, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of State and the Department of Justice, on legal and policy matters involving national security.

Enforcement and Removal Operations Law Division (EROLD)

The attorneys in the Enforcement and Removal Operations Law Division provide timely, accurate and comprehensive legal advice and operational guidance to ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations.  The Division’s  attorneys counsel agency personnel and review and draft legislation, regulations, legal opinions, policy directives and other materials on the legal aspects of immigration enforcement functions, including: alternatives to detention, civil immigration arrest and detention authorities, civil rights and disabilities, conditions of confinement, detainers, expedited removal processes, family detention, fugitive operations, juvenile issues, repatriation initiatives, the 287(g) program and the Visa Waiver Program.  These attorneys also provide specialized support to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, which oversees the enforcement and administration of laws involving certain nonimmigrant students and their dependents. 

Immigration Law and Practice Division (ILPD)

As the agency’s appellate counsel, the Immigration Law and Practice Division reviews all ICE appeals filed with the Board of Immigration Appeals, represents ICE before the Board in oral arguments and supplemental briefs, and coordinates closely with the Department of Justice and DHS Office of General Counsel in deciding whether to pursue further review of adverse federal court immigration decisions.  The appellate lawyers provide guidance on a wide range of immigration law issues, including criminal grounds of removability and foreign fugitive removability and extradition.  The division’s attorneys also serve as both the agency’s citizenship law experts who help prevent the inadvertent detention and removal of U.S. citizens and as its legal experts on immigration fraud prevention and protection-law matters including refugees, asylum, withholding of removal, protection under the Convention Against Torture and Temporary Protected Status. 

Last Reviewed/Updated: 06/23/2017