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CBP Restrictions on Access to Counsel: American Immigration Council

October 24, 2014 (1 min read)

"Over the last several years, AILA members have consistently reported that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers routinely stymie their efforts to provide legal representation to clients during CBP encounters, often without a clear explanation of the policies underlying the decision to exclude counsel.  In fact, the Administrative Procedure Act provides a broad statutory right to counsel in required appearances before administrative agencies, and the immigration agencies also recognize a regulatory right to counsel during many agency examinations.

Through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation, the American Immigration Council has obtained more than 300 pages of documents relating to CBP policies on access to counsel from CBP headquarters, field offices, Border Patrol sector offices, and other subdivisions.  These documents suggest that CBP policies and practices on access to counsel vary from one office to another, although a limited number of nationwide policies exist.

The documents released by CBP provide information about the agency’s policies on:
• Access to counsel for individuals:
o In primary and secondary inspections,
o During personal searches,
o In deferred inspections, and
o In CBP detention;
• Advisals of rights; and
• Treatment of children.

These documents are indexed and posted on the Council’s website." - Legal Action Center