Federal Immigration Agencies (U.S.)

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Immigration functions were transferred from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) which was part of the Department of Justice to three agencies in the DHS. Both the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are responsible for immigration enforcement. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) replaced the INS in 2003 and handles immigration services.

Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)

While the Department of Justice no longer runs the INS, the DOJ retains its adjudicative role in immigration through the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). The EOIR is comprised of three units:  

  • The Office of the Chief Immigration Judge provides overall program direction, articulates policies and procedures, and establishes priorities for more than 200 Immigration Judges located in over 50 immigration courts in the country and presides over formal evidentiary removal hearings.
  • The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is the highest administrative body for interpreting and applying immigration laws and hears appeals from the immigration judges as well as appeals from certain USCIS decisions.  BIA decisions are binding on all DHS officers and Immigration Judges unless modified or overruled by the Attorney General or a Federal court.
  • The Office of the Chief Administration Hearing Officer (OCAHO)conducts evidentiary hearings in certain cases that involve the unauthorized employment of noncitizens and cases that involve certain forms of job discrimination.

Other Related Federal Agencies

Immigration Legislation

Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952 (codified in Title 8 of the United States Code)

Public Laws Amending the Immigration and Naturalization Act

The most significant amendments include:

  • Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, Pub. L. 99-603
  • Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments, Pub. L. 99-639
  • Immigration Act of 1990, Pub. L. 101-649
  • Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-132
  • Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-20
  • Homeland Security Act of 2002, Pub. L. 107-296

To find pending immigration legislation search congress.gov.

Immigration Regulations

Besides Immigration and Nationality Act found in Title 8 of the United States Code, the most important primary source materials are regulations published by government agencies involved in immigration.

Make sure to check for regulation updates using the Federal Register and the LSA. See also Immigration Related Federal Register Notices

Administrative Decisions

Depending on the benefit applied for, most administrative appeals in the immigration area are heard by one of a number of appellate bodies situated within the DOJ, DHS, DOS, DOL or the US Information Agency. Appellate authority over immigration decisions made within the DOJ is primarily divided between the AAO and the BIA.   

Judicial review, either before a U.S. district court or a U.S. court of appeals is available upon exhaustion of all administrative remedies before either the AAO or the BIA.  

DOJ Attorney General & BIA Decisions

The BIA renders the final administrative decision with regard to all matters relating to removal proceedings, including eligibility for relief from removal, detention, parole and bond determinations, and most family-sponsored immigrant cases.

Treatises & Practice Materials

  • Fragomen & Bell, Immigration Fundamentals: A Guide to Law and Practice, 4th ed.  New York: Practising Law Institute, c1996-  (KF4819 .F724)
  • Gallagher, Immigration Law Service, 2d.  Eagan, MN : Thomson/West, 2004- (KF4815 .I46) 
  • Gordon, Mailman & Yale-Loehr, Immigration Law & Procedure.  New York, NY: M. Bender, 1966- (KF4819 .G6)
  • Kurzban, Immigration Law Sourcebook.  Washington, DC: American Immigration Law Foundation  (KF4819.3 .K87)
  • Weissbrodt, Immigration Law & Procedure in a Nutshell.  Eagan, MN: Thomson/West, 2011.  (Reserve KF4819.3 .W57 2011)

For additional books on immigration law, search BEN, the Cardozo Law Library Catalog. Some suggested subject headings:   


Lynch & Simon, Immigration the World Over: Statutes, Policies, and Practices.  Lanham, Md.: Rowan & Littlefield, 2003.  (K3275 .L96 2003)

News / Periodicals

Additionally, many articles are available from full-text sources such as LexisNexis (ALLUS), Westlaw (JLR), and HeinOnline. Additional articles can be identified with periodical indexes:

  • Current Law Index (Reference K33 .C85, LexisNexis - LAWREV;LGLIND, Westlaw - LRI)
  • Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (Reference K33 .I29, Angel Homepage - Library Resources)
  • Index to Legal Periodicals (Reference K33 .I55, Angel Homepage - Library Resources)

Web Resources

Government Publications & Guides