Astrid Silva, the 2014 receipent of the American Immigration Council’s Immigrant Youth...
What We Do
Litigation and Advocacy
The LAC uses litigation and advocacy as tools to protect the rights of noncitizens. We litigate in the federal courts, focusing our work on cases that have a wide impact. We also advocate before the immigration agencies to help ensure that the immigration laws are implemented properly. The following are our litigation and advocacy priorities:
- Access to Counsel. Access to counsel lies at the very core of our legal system and is integral to ensuring a fair process and a meaningful opportunity to be heard. The LAC has long advocated for the right to appointed counsel for indigent immigrants in removal proceedings, as well as fair standards and procedures to remedy the sometimes devastating results of ineffective assistance of counsel. The LAC also advocates for full access to counsel at all stages of the immigration process.
- Access to Courts. Federal court review is an important check on agency decision making because of the high stakes involved in immigration cases and the potential for error that accompanies the growing volume of cases. Through targeted litigation, the LAC has consistently advocated that statutory limits on judicial review must be narrowly construed. In addition, we advocate for the adoption of policies that help ensure all noncitizens a meaningful opportunity to be heard in the immigration court system.
- Enforcement. The LAC engages in administrative advocacy and targeted litigation to protect the rights of noncitizens facing removal, encourage the favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion in appropriate cases, promote greater transparency regarding DHS enforcement practices, and ensure that immigration officers are held accountable for misconduct.
- Paths to Legal Status: The LAC works to expand temporary relief and/or paths to permanent legal status for undocumented immigrants by ensuring the effective implementation of relevant laws and administrative actions, including the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) initiative; providing technical assistance to legislative and agency staff on relevant legislative proposals and draft regulations; challenging statutory and regulatory barriers to legal status; and advocating for broader interpretations of the laws that promote family unity and address the labor needs of U.S. businesses.
- Systemic Reforms. The LAC has a track record of litigating to fix long-standing problems with our broken immigration system. For example, through our class action and other litigation, we have tackled problems with the employment authorization process for asylum seekers, increased transparency regarding the immigration agency’s policies and procedures related to fraud investigations in the H-1B program, and challenged restrictive agency interpretations of the Child Status Protection Act that deprive individuals of obtaining permanent residence status.
Legal Education and Technical Assistance
The LAC provides critical resources to the legal community through both technical assistance and practice advisories regarding substantive and procedural issues in immigration law. The LAC mentors other members of the legal community and lectures on various issues at law conferences nationwide. In addition, the LAC, in partnership with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, developed and organizes the innovative Litigation Institute. The Litigation Institute is a hands-on, practical training program for lawyers to develop their litigation skills.