American Immigration Council

Established in 1987, the American Immigration Council is a non-profit organization established to increase public understanding of immigration law and policy, advocate for the fair and just administration of our immigration laws, protect the legal rights of noncitizens, and educate the public about the enduring contributions of America’s immigrants. Our legal department works with other immigrants’ rights organizations and immigration attorneys across the United States to promote full access to counsel at all stages of the immigration process, including deportation proceedings. Other priority areas include promoting transparency and accountability in immigration enforcement, preserving immigrants’ access to administrative agencies and federal courts, and promoting systemic reforms to fix long-standing problems with our broken immigration system.

The Council’s recent litigation accomplishments include:

THE CASE: Each year, the government initiates deportation proceedings against thousands of children, but does not guarantee that those children have legal representation. Like adults, children who cannot afford to hire an attorney or find pro bono counsel are forced to navigate the complex and adversarial immigration system on their own, even though the government is always represented by a trained attorney. Although this is a longstanding problem, the number of children affected by it has grown significantly as increasing numbers of children flee violence in Central America and are placed into the deportation process upon their arrival in the United States.

To address this problem, in July 2014, we and our partners (the ACLU, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public Counsel, and K&L Gates) filed a nationwide class action lawsuit on behalf of children who are challenging the federal government’s failure to provide them with legal representation as it carries out removal proceedings against them. The complaint charges the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Health and Human Services, Executive Office for Immigration Review, and Office of Refugee Resettlement with violating the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause and the Immigration and Nationality Act’s requirement of a “full and fair hearing” before an immigration judge. It seeks to require the government to provide legal representation to all children in deportation proceedings.

Contact: Melissa Crow, Legal Director, American Immigration Council, 1331 G St. NW, Suite 200, Washington, D.C., 20005

Beth Werlin, Deputy Legal Director, American Immigration Council, 1331 G St. NW, Suite 200, Washington, D.C., 20005