Heartland Alliance National Immigrant Justice Center

The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) seeks to ensure human rights protections and access to justice for immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. NIJC provides direct legal services to and advocates for these populations through policy reform, impact litigation, and public education.

Since its founding three decades ago, NIJC has uniquely integrated individual client advocacy with broad-based systemic change. NIJC and its pro bono attorneys are on the vanguard of federal impact litigation and advocacy, setting positive precedents for those seeking human rights protections within our borders. In 2012, NIJC played a key role in the Department of Justice’s issuing regulations requiring the Department of Homeland Security to extend Prison Rape Elimination Act protections to detained immigrants.

THE CASE: NIJC is involved in the litigation of the case, Cece v. Holder, currently pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. NIJC argued this case before the court in a rehearing en banc as amicus. The case involves an Albanian woman who feared she would be trafficked for prostitution due to the widespread trafficking of young, unprotected women in Albania. In support of Cece, NIJC is arguing that her particular social group is viable and not fatally flawed. NIJC’s brief asserts that victims of persecution – particularly those who are pro se – should not be denied relief for failing to articulate a clear PSG when they have shown they will be harmed on account of a characteristic they cannot change. NIJC is seeking to promote arguments similar to the ones raised in Cece in other federal circuits. In a similar case, NIJC is preparing an amicus brief in support of rehearing for another young Albanian woman who fears trafficking in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Contact: Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director, National Immigrant Justice Center, 208 S. LaSalle Street, Suite 1818, Chicago, IL 60604