About the Legal Action Center
Who We Are
The Legal Action Center (LAC) of the American Immigration Council advocates for fundamental fairness in U.S. immigration law. To this end, the LAC engages in impact litigation and appears as amicus curiae (friend of the court) before administrative tribunals and federal courts in significant immigration cases on targeted legal issues. We also provide resources to lawyers litigating immigration cases and serve as a point of contact for lawyers conducting or contemplating immigration litigation. The LAC also works with other immigrants’ rights organizations and immigration attorneys across the United States to promote the just and fair administration of our immigration laws.
What We Do
The LAC uses litigation as a tool to protect the rights of noncitizens. We litigate in the federal courts, focusing our work on cases that have a wide impact. In our class action and other litigation, we seek accountability and responsibility from the government agencies that administer the immigration laws. As an example, the LAC achieved a significant victory on behalf of a national class of 180,000-plus asylees (noncitizens granted asylum in the United States). We successfully compelled the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to grant permanent residence status to asylees whose cases had been backlogged for up to ten years. The lawsuit also forced DHS to make it easier and more straightforward for asylees to obtain evidence of work authorization. In another lawsuit, we forced the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to issue regulations for thousands of immigrant healthcare workers. Other LAC litigation compelled the INS to process Family Unity applications filed by family members of immigrants who were legalized in 1986. Our preparation of and credible threat to file a class action involving hundreds of disappointed immigrants forced DHS to accept their applications after the “visa bulletin” fiasco.
Legal Support to Immigration Litigators—Practice Advisories
The LAC provides targeted support to lawyers who litigate fairness issues in immigration proceedings. The LAC produces Practice Advisories on important substantive and procedural issues in immigration law. Recent Practice Advisories address major changes in the law, federal court procedures, stalled immigration applications, and applying for attorneys fees. We also mentor immigration lawyers on the issues covered in the Practice Advisories and lecture on these issues at immigration law conferences nationwide.
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. Institute participants work in small groups throughout the multi-day program where they participate in mock immigration court and federal court hearings. The LAC provides each participant with an Institute Manual and an extensive compilation of litigation resources. This workshop consistently sells out and is one of the top ranked immigration legal education programs available.
The Litigation Clearinghouse serves as a national point of contact for lawyers conducting or contemplating immigration litigation. Through the Clearinghouse, the LAC works with immigrants’ rights groups and immigration lawyers across the United States to share expertise and resources and coordinate efforts. The Clearinghouse issues The LAC Docket, the newsletter of the Legal Action Center that covers selected topics currently being litigated by immigration lawyers nationwide. The newsletters also include Supreme Court updates and Legal Action Center news. In addition, we hold litigation meetings at national immigration law conferences and work with local immigration law committees to foster the sharing of litigation-related information and ideas.
Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) Legal Briefs
The LAC submits briefs as amicus curiae (friend of the court) before administrative tribunals and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Topics of our amicus curiae briefs have included:
- Motions to reopen, voluntary departure, and adjustment of status (U.S. Supreme Court)
- Lawfulness of indefinite detention (U.S. Supreme Court)
- Reinstatement of removal or deportation order (U.S. Supreme Court)
- "Arriving aliens" and adjustment of status in removal proceedings
- Appointed counsel for people in removal proceeding with mental illness
- Immigrant physicians serving in underserved areas, "national interest" waivers
- Stays of voluntary departure during court of appeals review
- Child Status Protection Act, derivative beneficiaries, asylum applicants
- REAL ID Act and federal court jurisdiction to review agency decisions
- BIA summary decisions: "affirmances without opinion"
- Employment-based visas for “skilled workers, professionals, and other workers”