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News & Alerts


Sejal Zota quoted in US Law Week article on Dimaya and its future

October 27, 2015 – In response to the victory we had a couple of weeks ago in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, many are wondering what the future of this decision will hold for us. Read the article to see what Sejal and others had to say.

The case was argued by Andrew Knapp for petitioner and Sejal Zota of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild for amicus.

Crimes of Violence No Longer Grounds for Deportation in 9th Circuit

October 19, 2015 – In a victory in the fight for due process and fair notice, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that 18 U.S.C. 16(b)—used to deport immigrants for an aggravated felony crime of violence and crime of domestic violence—is unconstitutionally vague. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court had found that a similar crime of violence definition used to enhance federal criminal sentences is  unconstitutionally vague. United States v. Johnson, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015). In Johnson, the Court interpreted the so-called “residual clause” of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), and it reasoned that the statute did not give people fair notice of the conduct prohibited and invited arbitrary enforcement.  In a 2-1 opinion, the Ninth Circuit held that § 16(b) suffers from the same indeterminacy. Because 16(b) employs the same unpredictable mode of analysis as the ACCA, the Court found that it too violates due process. This means the government will no longer be able to use this immigration ground against noncitizens for any purpose in the Ninth Circuit. The decision will help countless immigrants.  

The case was argued by Andrew Knapp for petitioner and Sejal Zota of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild for amicus.

Read the decision here.

Read our Practice Advisory "How Johnson v. United States May Help Your Crime of Violence Case" here.


NIPNLG Succcesfully Challenges CBP's Extensive FOIA Delays

September 17, 2015 - In a victory in the fight for government transparency and accountability, District Court Judge Donato denied CBP’s motion to dismiss in a strongly worded decision. The Court recognized that “CBP’s records are critical to noncitizens and their attorneys in evaluating immigration options and the possibility of remaining legally in the United States.” He then roundly rejected the government’s claim that CBP’s failure to meet the statutory deadlines is not actionable, finding this argument “wholly at odds with the statute and cases” and that CBP’s reading of the relevant cases “could not be less persuasive.” The Court concluded that Plaintiffs adequately alleged a FOIA violation and ordered CBP to file an answer within ten days. Oral arguments on the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification took place on October 7, 2015. The Court ordered a six-month discovery period to permit the collection of evidence regarding CBP’s pattern and practice of delays in responding to FOIA requests. Co-counsel are the Law Offices of Stacy Tolchin, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, the American Immigration Council and Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. Read the full decision here.


Defending the Rights of Immigrants - Remarks by Kathy Moccio, NIPNLG 2015 Member Honoree

June 19, 2015 - National Harbor, MD - NIPNLG 2015 Member Honoree, Kathy Moccio, presented remarks during the reception in her honor, as she was presented with her recognition at our annual Member Reception at the annual AILA convention. Moccio noted that the full potential of the Padilla decision is inextricably tied to the strength of the nation's public defense:

A crisis in criminal law that isn’t often talked about is the state of public defense. While we must advocate against the melding of the criminal and immigration systems, we must also realize that as long as crim-imm is in place, public defenders will be the front line of defense against a non-citizen’s removal from the U.S. The power of Padilla is inherently tied to the strength of public defense.

Read Kathy's full remarks here.

Trina Realmuto to be honored with Jack Wasserman Award

May 27, 2015 - Boston, MA -  NIPNLG's Litigation Director Trina Realmuto has been named this year's recipient of the prestigious Jack Wasserman memorial award for excellence in litigation in the field of immigration law, by the American Immigration Lawyers Association/AILA (aka "Litigator of the Year"). The award ceremony will be held on Sat. June 20th at the annual AILA convention at the Gaylord Convention Center in National Harbor, MD. Read more about Trina Realmuto HERE.


NIPNLG represents man held illegally on immigration detainer

May 8, 2015 - Springfield, MA - A man held illegally on an immigration detainer is seeking monetary damages over his detention. After an argument at a New Year’s Eve party, a federal immigration dragnet landed Jorge Sanchez
in jail for weeks, on a direct path to deportation. NIPNLG and the ACLU are representing Mr. Sanchez. Read the details of his case in the Press Release HERE.


Kathy Moccio to be honored on June 19, 2015 at annual NIPNLG member reception during the annual AILA convention

kathy.moccio's picture

May 4 , 2015 - The National Immigration Project announces that it will honor Kathy Moccio at its annual member reception during the annual AILA convention (American Immigration Lawyers Association) in National Harbor, MD.

NIPNLG Annual Member Reception & Recognition
Honoring Kathy Moccio
Friday, June 19, 2015
Room Chesapeake E-F

Gaylord Convention Center
National Harbor, MD

Kathy Moccio is a Minnesota-based public defender working with noncitizen clients on the immigration issues inherent to their case. She teaches immigration law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, and has served as a consultant to the Urban Institute in its publication of Facing Our Future–Children in the Aftermath of Immigration Enforcement. Board member Maria Baldini-Potermin offered this statement: "Kathy is a great and giving person who devotes countless hours and energy to unaccompanied minors, refugees, and asylum applicants in Minnesota. Deeply caring and dedicated, Kathy also gives of her time and effort to teach and mentor law students and attorneys from all walks of life about immigration law, particularly the immigration consequences of criminal dispositions."

Please help NIPNLG recognize this tireless member of our community by placing a congratulatory message in the commemorative Program Book being produced for the occasion. Rates are as follows: 

• Back cover (5" x 8" - color): $2,500
• Inside Back cover (5" x 8"): $2,000
• Full-page ad (5 x 8):  $1,200
• Half page ad (5 x 3 ¾ ): $600
• 1/4 - page ad (3 ¾ x 2 ½ or 5 x 2):  $400
• 1/8 - page ad (2 ½ x 2):  $250
• Simple listing (no message): $150

You may place your ad by returning THIS FORM to Pamela Goldstein.

Or CLICK HERE to securely purchase Ad space online.

Ads must be placed by June 3, 2015. There is no fee to attend the reception. However, even if you are unable to attend, we hope you will join us by honoring Kathy in the Program Book.

Questions? Please contact  


Hold DHS Accountable for Fair Implementation of New Policies - New Report from NIPNLG and United We Dream

April 17, 2015 - Today, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and United We Dream released a scathing new report detailing instances in which ICE field offices ignored key provisions in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)'s Enforcement Memo released in November, 2014. The Memo explicitly created 3 priority categories for deportation, and provides detailed guidance on how DHS agencies and its employees should exercise discretion for individuals facing deportation or detention.

Prosecutorial Discretion Denied paints a harrowing picture of the ways in which local ICE field offices over the past 4 months have routinely ignored, denied, overlooked, or mishandled legitimate requests and evidence from immigrants seeking prosecutorial discretion in the review of their cases. The result has been the continued shredding of the social fabric of immigrant and mixed-status communities and families throughout the United States.

The report is a call to DHS to change course immediately. "Without an unconditional commitment to [making] improvements, it is difficult to see how the new prosecutorial discretion policies differ from the old failed ones."

Read the Full Report HERE.

Read the Press Release HERE.


NIPNLG Co-files Lawsuit Challenging Failure of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to Release Agency Files

March 13, 2015 - Yesterday, a class action lawsuit was filed by three immigration attorneys and eleven noncitizens challenging U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) nationwide practice of failing to timely respond to requests for case information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). FOIA gives an individual the right to access information that the federal government possesses about him or her within 20 business days of making the request. CBP routinely fails to provide requested documents within 20 days, but instead takes months—and in many cases more than a year—to provide documents.

Plaintiffs and others like them are forced to delay filing applications for lawful permanent residence while they wait for necessary documents from their own case files. By bringing this case as a class action, the plaintiffs seek to remedy CBP’s system-wide failures in its management of FOIA requests. The case was filed by the Law Offices of Stacy Tolchin (NIPNLG Board chair), Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, NIPNLG, and the American Immigration Council.

Click here to read the Press Release Here

Click here to read the Complaint

Click here to read the Declaration


NIPNLG Statement on Texas v. United States

February 18, 2015 - NIPNLG views the preliminary injunction in Texas v. United States -- that temporarily blocks the implementation of the new deferred action initiatives announced last November -- as a momentary setback. We remain confident that the courts will ultimately uphold the new deferred action initiatives, which will bring relief to millions of noncitizens who have worked and waited tirelessly for years to contribute more fully to U.S. society. In the meantime, we will continue to fight back against draconian measures that erode noncitizen rights; and work to ensure that individuals eligible for these new programs are not deported while awaiting a final court decision. Read the full Press Statement here.


New Practice Advisory Published - for Practitioners Assisting Individuals Seeking Relief under New Federal Program

November 25, 2014 - The National Immigration Project (NIPNLG) and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) have published a new Practice Advisory for Criminal Defenders entitled, New "Deferred Action for Parental Accountability" (DAPA) Immigration Program Announced by President Obama. The nine-page Advisory seeks to provide sound technical assistance to criminal defense practitioners regarding the new federal program.

CLICK HERE to read the Practice Advisory


New Advisory for Individuals Seeking Relief under New Federal Program

November 22, 2014 - NIPNLG has published a one-page Alert for individuals with criminal convictions or arrests considering applying for the recently announced Deferred Action Programs.

Click HERE to read the Alert (English)

Click Here to read the Alert (Spanish)


Groups Launch for New Federal Program

November 20, 2014 - In the wake of President Obama’s announcement of executive action on immigration, NIPNLG as part of a coalition of national immigrant rights groups has launched a new website of free resources related to the new federal program.

The Administrative Relief Resource Center ( seeks to be maximally helpful to legal service providers, allies in the faith, labor, and other social movements, and all practitioners and advocates working with the noncitizen population.

Contents include:

The CIRI coalition (Committee for Immigration Reform Implementation) includes: the American Bar Association (ABA), AFL-CIO, American Immigration Council (AIC), American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ), Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Center for Migration Studies (CMS), Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), Immigration Advocates Network (IAN), NALEO Educational Fund, National Council of La Raza (NCLR), National Immigration Law Center (NILC), National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG), The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), PICO National Network, UFW Foundation, UNITE HERE, United We Dream, and World Relief.

CIRI has been meeting to plan implementation strategies since its inception during the National Legalization Planning Conference held in June 2013 in St. Louis, MO.


Groups Sue U.S. Government over Life-Threatening Deportation Process Against Mothers and Children Escaping Extreme Violence in Central America

August 22, 2014 - Today NIPNLG and allies sued the federal government to challenge its new and unlawful “fast-track” expedited removal policies that are being used against mothers and children detained in Artesia, New Mexico. Artesia is a remote detention center stationed hundreds of miles from the nearest city. The groups include: NIPNLG, the American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Council, National Immigration Law Center, Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale, LLP, ACLU of New Mexico, ACLU of the Nation’s Capital, ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, and Jenner & Block.  

"These women and children sought refuge in the United States after enduring the brutal murders of their loved ones, rapes, death threats, and other atrocities,” said Staff Attorney Trina Realmuto. “Over the last several weeks we have collected evidence that shows the government is disregarding our laws, and pushing mothers and children through a deportation mill.”

Dozens of declarations by attorneys stationed at Artesia describe conditions that make it virtually impossible for mothers and their children to consult with their attorneys, access legal help, obtain notice of their hearings, and meaningfully prepare their claims for asylum or any defenses to deportation. Moreover, a significant percentage of women are victims of rape and domestic violence, and are forced to answer traumatic questions, including detailed descriptions of rape, while their children are present.

In a bizarre twist, mothers and children present their cases to immigration judges stationed in Arlington, Virginia - nearly 2,000 miles away - by televideo. Attorneys near Arlington, Virginia, attempting to observe hearings for due process violations, often face locked courtroom doors.

“This process is forcing women and children to forfeit valid asylum claims,” said Paromita Shah, Associate Director of the National Immigration Project. “We cannot allow the government to hide a fatally flawed process behind locked courtroom doors.”

The lawsuit, M.S.P.C. v. Johnson, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Read the complaint here
Read the Press Statement here
Read the Declarations here
More information about this case here

For press or related inquiries, please contact Associate Director, Paromita Shah:


U.S. District Court issues final order approving settlement in Duran Gonzalez v. Holder

July 21, 2014 - The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington issued a final order approving the settlement in the case of Duran Gonzalez, et al. v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, et al.  The settlement will allow a group of nearly 1,500 people the opportunity to remain in the United States with their families.

After 8 years of litigation that included three separate published opinions from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Court approved a settlement that will allow hundreds of individuals the opportunity to reopen their previously denied applications for permanent residence so that they can remain in the United States with their families. The settlement will also allow individuals in the class who have already been removed from the United States the opportunity to submit applications through the U.S. consulates. 

The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild teamed with the American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, the Law Offices of Van Der Hout, Brigagliano and Nightingale, and the Law Office of Stacy Tolchin in litigating this class action.

Click HERE for Related Class Action Materials


Members of Congress Gain New Tool to Protect Constituents from Continuing Deportations

June 27, 2014 - Rep. Raul Grijalva hosted a briefing in Washington D.C. where United We Dream, PICO National Network, National Immigration Project and various other immigrant rights groups released a unique guide that aims to enable members of Congress to assist families facing imminent separation through deportation.

Please click here to read the full press release.

The comprehensive guide released by United We Dream can be found here


DACA Renewal Process is Announced

June 24, 2014 - NIPNLG summarizes the DACA renewal process, including highlights related to Criminal, Public Safety, and Removal issues. Please click here to read the update and highlights. 

On June 5, 2014, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the process for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal and released a revised Form I-821DConsideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. USCIS also updated its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) webpage on DACA.

To learn more about the DACA renewal process, please join us for our DACA Renewal Webinar on July 15, 2014. 


Congratulations, Zachary Nightingale! Annual NIPNLG reception to honor work of outstanding member on June 20, 2014 in Boston

May 22 , 2014 - NIPNLG member Zach Nightingale will be honored at our annual member reception at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) annual convention. Zach is a passionate and talented champion of immigrant rights. His unrelenting defense of justice for noncitizens embodies the values and mission of the National Immigration Project. He is known for his unstinting work ethic, commitment to justice, and passion for doing what is right.

The reception takes place on June 20, 2014 in Boston's Marriott Copley Place. All are welcome. Please consider taking out a congratulatory message in Zach's honor for the Program Book we are producing for the occasion, by filling out this form and returning it to Bethany Nguyen, Resource Development and Communications Assistant. All proceeds benefit NIPNLG. Questions? Please contact Bethany [at] nipnlg [dot] org.


Upcoming Seminars & Events

April 23, 2014 - NIPNLG announces its spring 2014 Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminar, Exploring Immigration Defense Strategies, to take place on May 30, 2104 in Seattle, WA, followed by a Reception hosted by Rios & Cruz, P.S. Other upcoming Seminars and Events information may be found here.


Supreme Court Makes Exception for Immigration Cases in Criminal Case Decision

April 7, 2014 - On March 26, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in a criminal case that makes it easier to convict people with prior minor domestic violence offenses - but NOT in the immigration context, thanks to an amicus brief filed by ASISTA, NIPNLG, and others.

Click HERE to read the decision.

Click HERE to read the amicus brief.

Click HERE to read our practice advisory on Why United States v. Castleman Does Not Hurt Your Immigration Case and May Help It.


District Court Grants Preliminary Approval of Settlement Agreement and Amends Class Definition in Duran Gonzalez

March 28, 2014 - On March 21, 2014, the District Court granted preliminary approval of the settlement agreement, including amending the class definition, in Duran Gonzalez.  The court set a fairness hearing for July 11, 2014, at which the Court will consider whether to approve the settlement. 

Click HERE to read the notice of the proposed settlement and hearing.

Click HERE to read a copy of the proposed settlement agreement. 

Click HERE to read the full announcement, including information about next steps and a temporary stay for class members. Launched to Expose Border-Related Abuse and Litigation

March 26, 2014 - An alliance of immigration advocacy groups announces the launch of, a website that catalogues lawsuits and administrative complaints brought against U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The American Immigration Council (AIC), the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG), the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties have joined forces to document litigation that exposes CBP abuses, including unlawful searches and seizures, removals based on coercion and misinformation, and the use of excessive and sometimes deadly force by Border Patrol agents and CBP officers.

Read the Press Release here.


Victory for Immigrants' Rights: Detainers are NOT mandatory

March 5, 2014 - The Third Circuit ruled today that detainers are merely requests, and therefore it is not mandatory for jails to comply with them. This is the first Circuit Court to address the issue, and a significant victory in the struggle to reduce the overreach of the Department of Homeland Security into the affairs of local police departments.

Congratulations due especially to ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project Staff Attorney, Kate Desormeau, who represented the appellants and argued the case; and to former NIPNLG Criminal Justice Fellow, Lena Graber, who helped shape an amicus brief filed in the case on behalf of NIPNLG. NIPNLG applauds this major gain in the effort to protect the constitutional rights of noncitizens.

Read the decision here.


New Resource on How Arrests and Convictions Separate Immigrant Families

February 14, 2014 - As part of the Immigrant Justice Network and CAMBIO, NIPNLG anounces a new resource in English and Spanish entitled, The Short Immigration Guide to How Arrest & Convictions Separate Families, designed for community-based organizations, immigrant communities, and all advocates of fair and just immigration policy. This illustrated guide explains how arrests and convictions affect immigrants, discusses the impact of current immigration reform proposals, and provides stories and tools for communities to fight back and keep families together. Download the Illustrated Short Guide below:



Join in on an e-conference led by the Immigration Advocates Network (IAN) on:

How to Effectively File an FTCA Claim Friday, November 1, 2013 - 2:00-4:00p.m. EDT

This session will cover how to use the Federal Tort Claims Act to increase accountability for misconduct and abuse committed by DHS officers. Panelists will include:

- Trina Realmuto; Staff Attorney, NIPNLG
- Jonathan Feinberg; Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg LLP
- Matt Adams; Legal Director, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

See HERE for more details.


First Circuit Holds that Immigrants Can Pursue Cases from Outside the United States

October 1 , 2013 - The First Circuit Court of Appeals has held that individuals who have been deported must have the opportunity to pursue a motion to reopen their immigration cases from outside the United States. A motion to reopen is an important procedural safeguard that helps ensure noncitizens are afforded a fair immigration hearing. The American Immigration Council (AIC) and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG), which filed an amicus brief in the First Circuit, welcome the court’s ruling in Perez Santana v. Holder. NIPNLG's Trina Realmuto also argued the case before the court on behalf of the petitioner and amici.

Despite having lost in nine other circuits, the government continued to vigorously defend a regulation – the so called “departure bar” – barring individuals from pursuing their cases from outside the United States. This most recent decision means that all but one circuit court of appeals has rejected the government’s arguments and concluded that the regulation is unlawful. Only the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has yet to rule on the legality of the departure bar. The American Immigration Council and NIPNLG renew their call for the agency to strike this unlawful regulation.

In this case, Vladimir Perez Santana, a lawful permanent resident since the age of 9, was ordered removed based on a single criminal conviction. He sought a vacatur of his conviction on constitutional grounds and asked the immigration agency to defer his removal until the criminal case was resolved. The agency refused to do so and deported him. The criminal court subsequently vacated Mr. Perez Santana’s conviction – thus removing the only basis for his removal – but the Board of Immigration Appeals declined to reopen and reconsider his immigration case because of the “departure bar” regulation. The Court’s decision means that Mr. Perez Santana will have the opportunity to present his argument for why his case should be reopened and he should be restored to his lawful status. Mr. Perez Santana was represented by Kathleen Gillespie and Jeffrey Rubin.

Full Case Details Here

Read more about the American Immigration Council and NIPNLG’s challenges to the departure bar at


Massachusetts Highest Court Holds Padillia Retroactive

September 13, 2013 - The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court today held that the US Supreme Court’s decision in Padilla v. Kentucky applies retroactively to cases that were final after April 1, 1997. 

Congratulations to Project members Wendy Wayne (argued), Jennifer Klein, and Emma Winger who represented Kempress Sylvain. Kudos as well to Project staff members, Sejal Zota and Paromita Shah, who submitted an amicus brief on our behalf and to Project member Christopher Lasch who submitted an amicus brief for Massachusetts Academics ( 

Read Christopher Lasch's blog posting for more on this decision:


NIPNLG Testifies Against the SAFE Act

June 14, 2013 - As part of the Immigrant Justice Network/IJN, NIPNLG has submitted testimony to the House Judiciary Committee concerning the Strength and Fortify Enforcement/SAFE Act (H.R. 2278). From the Statement:

During the last two decades we have seen an unprecedented increase in immigration enforcement policies, resulting in massive deportation of immigrants who pose no risk to public safety and whose only desire is to work, and live with their family members who are in the United States.

...Designed to criminalize immigrants and drive them further into the shadows, [H.R. 2278] provides no real reform solutions; it merely offers an expanded version of the "enforcement” only strategies, a discredited approach divorced from current realities. This bill makes clear that a minority group of extremists are committed to holding real immigration reform hostage at taxpayers’ expense.

Read the Full Statement here

Read IJN's Preliminary Analysis of the SAFE Act here

For more information or press inquiries, please email: Paromita [at] nationalimmigrationproject [dot] org.


NIPNLG Promotes Fair Federal Immigration Policy

April 22, 2013 - NIPNLG analyzes key provisions in immigration reform that would promote fairness for ALL immigrants, as part of the Immigrant Justice Network (IJN), a three-way partnership between the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), Immigrant Defense Project (IDP), and the National Immigration Project.

See Also: Five In, Five Out (5 si, 5 no),
NIPNLG's broad proposal for Comprensive Immigration Reform here (or here, in Spanish).

Learn more about IJN below or here.

About IJN: We are specialists in the complex intersection of criminal and immigration law, especially in the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. Our goals are to protect the rights of noncitizens accused of crimes during the criminal justice process; to halt expanding criminalization of noncitizens; and to seek just immigration reform for all immigrants, including those who may have had contact in the past with the criminal or juvenile justice systems.

For more information, please contact
Paromita Shah or Dan Kesselbrenner


Member Atessa Chehrazi to be honored at NIPNLG reception in San Francisco, June 28, 2013

April 17 , 2013 - NIPNLG member Atessa Chehrazi will be honored at our annual member reception held at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) annual convention. Atessa is a true champion of immigrant rights, having worked on national security issues critical to noncitizens. A generous volunteer in her own community, Atessa demonstrates that working in a large law firm does not preclude working on issues informed by progressive values and progressive politics.

The reception takes place on June 28, 2013 in San Francisco. Please consider taking out a congratulatory message in Atessa's honor for the Program Book we are producing for the occasion, by filling out this form and returning it to Pamela Goldstein, Director of Development and Communications. All proceeds benefit NIPNLG. Questions? Please contact Pamela [at] nipnlg [dot] org.

Dan Kesselbrenner interviewed in the Huffington Post: "One Struggle with Many Fronts"

March 22, 2013 - Executive Director Dan Kesselbrenner is interviewed in the Huffington Post, discussing the National Immigration Project's hopes and expectations for federal immigration reform, NIPNLG's history, Dan's personal connection to the work, and more: One Struggle with Many Fronts: Interview with Dan Kesselbrenner.

Press Roundup - Litigation Exposes U.S. Customs & Border Protection Abuse

March 2013 - A flurry of press followed the joint filing of complaints against abuses by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) across the country. Ten damages cases were filed alleging unlawful CBP conduct in northern and southern border states, illustrating an ongoing pattern of rampant misconduct against both immigrants and U.S. citizens. Further details may be found below Press Roundup.

NIPNLG Highlights U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Abuse of Enforcement Authority

March 15, 2013 - An alliance of immigration groups, private attorneys, and a law school clinic joined forces to file a series of complaints targeting abuses by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) across the country. Ten damages cases have been filed alleging unlawful CBP conduct in northern and southern border states. These cases are the latest illustrations of an ongoing pattern of rampant misconduct against both immigrants and U.S. citizens in these states.

Border Patrol agents routinely exceed their statutory mandate by conducting enforcement activities outside border regions, making racially-motivated arrests, employing derogatory and coercive interrogation tactics, and imprisoning arrestees under inhumane conditions. The cases include claims for unlawful search and seizure, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, and battery.

The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG), the American Immigration Council, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties launched the initiative in mid-March to expose such abuse. "It's time that U.S. Customs and Border Protection recognize that it is not above the law," said NIPNLG Staff Attorney Trina Realmuto, who is helping to spearhead the campaign.

For more information, please contact Trina Realmuto, Staff Attorney:

Click here to read the full Press Release.
Click here to read the Case Summaries.

NIPNLG Celebrates passage of VAWA IV

March 4, 2013 - NIPNLG applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for its passage on February 28, 2013 of the Senate-passed bipartisan Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (VAWA). The bill reflects Congress's commitment to combating domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking in a comprehensive manner -- without leaving women who are noncitizens out of the equation (as alernative versions attempted to do) -- including them in important protections critical to women's health and survival.

The Leahy (D-VT)-Crapo (R-ID) VAWA reauthorization passed the Senate two weeks ago with the support of 78 Senators, including all Democrats, all women Senators and a majority of Republican Senators. The bill also had the backing of 1300 organizations which signed a letter to Congress asking for a bipartisan and comprehensive VAWA bill with protections for ALL victims. NIPNLG played a national leadership role in mobilizing our members, and in providing survivor testimonies to Congressional staffers and the media.

Despite the favorable vote, violence against women remains a critical problem in our nation. NIPNLG urges law-makers to include immigrant women victims in future immigration legislation, including maintaining a generous application of U-visa non-immigrant visas.

NIPNLG Speaks Out Against SCOMM and Similar Programs in the Raleigh News and Observer

November 16 , 2012 - Click here to read the article about how U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is scaling back its use of the 287(g) program, and instead implementing Secure Communities. Many civil rights groups oppose both programs due to local law enforcement's abuse of the authority to target immigrant communities.

NIPNLG Celebrates End to destructive 287(g) immigration enforcement program in Nashville, TN

August 23, 2012 - NIPNLG applauds the Davidson County Sheriff’s decision to end the 287(g) immigration enforcement program established through an unlawful agreement between Davidson County (Nashville) and federal authorities that allowed the sheriff’s office to enforce immigration law.

NIPNLG, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and Ozment Law filed a lawsuit because the agreement violates state and local laws, and was plagued with problems and abuses of the immigrant community.

Counsel and NIPNLG member Elliott Ozment responded to the Sheriff's announcement this way: “287(g) was a destructive program that tore thousands of Nashville families apart and gave inappropriate law enforcement powers to sheriff’s deputies. Immigration decisions should be made by federal immigration officials, not local jailers. Programs like 287(g) have lost support nationwide. The writing was on the wall in Nashville, too. Good riddance.”

Read the Press Release here
Read additional information about the case here

NIPNLG Supports "Undocubus" - No Papers No Fear Ride For Justice!

July 23, 2012 - Beginning on July 28th, individuals will be coming out of the shadows ("No Papers No Fear") in a cross-country ride to speak out for immigrant rights. The ride will originate in Arizona, and conclude in North Carolina at the Democratic National Convention.

The National Immigration Project is orienting the Undocubus riders about what to do in case of arrest, and recruiting legal back-up along the route. We are also helping riders who may be eligible for relief under the Obama administration's new Deferred Action plan to extend prosecutorial discretion to noncitizens brought to the U.S. as children (see below).

New Opportunity for DREAMers Includes New Challenges

June 21, 2012 - The National Immigration Project applauds the Obama Administration's decision to exercise prosecutorial discretion to extend deferred action to DREAMers. Until the rules and regulations that will be applied have been published and examined, however, we remain cautious about whether its implementation will be in keeping with the spirit of the announcement. The bars to eligibility are broad, and may be cause for concern. They will likely exclude individuals with minor criminal convictions, for example, as well as individuals with juvenile delinquency adjudications. Terms such as “significant misdemeanor" may extend to such infractions as possession of one marijuana cigarette, which would be unduly harsh.

The Project strongly urges individuals who may have had contact with the criminal justice system, or with the juvenile justice system, to have their criminal history reviewed by an experienced practitioner who is skilled in deportation defense before applying for deferred action.
Please read our joint Advisory to DREAMers here

Read the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) memo: "Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children." [PDF].

Read DHS's FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) about the new policy here [PDF].

URGENT message to advocates:
Speak Out for the Real VAWA!

June 19, 2012 - The National Immigration Project has issued an alert urging a critical final push against recent Congressional changes to Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) legislation. This legislation has been crucial to defending immigrant survivors of violence in the United States. It is now threatened by these changes. Please TAKE ACTION NOW. Read the full alert here [PDF]

National Immigration Project & Leading National Advocates Decry House Passage of HR4970
VAWA Reauthorization

May 16, 2012 - NIPNLG and its partners in the Immigration Committee of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence have issued a press release decrying today's passage by the U.S. House of Representatives of a harmful bill that rolls back nearly 20 years of bipartisan efforts to protect immigrant victims of violence in the United States.

Read full press release here [PDF]

New Resource to Fight Deportations

May 9, 2012 - NIPNLG, with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the Immigrant Defense Project, the Washington Defenders Association, and the National Immigration Law Center, has produced a new resource for organizers and advocates to prevent deportations in our communities – The All-in-One Guide to Defeating ICE Hold Requests. The Guide centers around fighting ICE hold requests (also known as immigration detainers), which are the link that keeps immigrants detained in local jails and enables ICE come and deport them. 

As Secure Communities continues to expand and deportations reach record numbers, communities have sought new ways to push back against these ICE programs and removals. From Santa Clara County, CA to Cook County, IL, to New York City, communities have demanded that local law enforcement stop submitting to ICE hold requests.

When someone is booked into a local jail, on any charges, even the most minor, ICE issues a hold request to that jail, asking to keep the person locked up for an extra 48 hours so that ICE can come get them and deport them. These hold requests are the functional tool that underlies Secure Communities, 287(g), and the Criminal Alien Program. If communities refuse to submit to ICE hold requests, then immigrants who are released from jail are able to go back home to their families, instead of being snatched away to immigration detention and deportation.

There are a lot of confusing technical details underlying the relationships between ICE and local law enforcement. This Guide is designed to help communities get better information and plan their campaigns strategically. See here for compiled resources and sections within the Guide.

Lena Graber, NIPNLG staffer and Soros Justice Fellow, writes about the new Guide on Detention Watch Network's blog here.

New Practice Advisory Issued

April 20, 2012 - This new practice advisory by Sejal Zota identifies legal strategies for both criminal defense lawyers and immigration lawyers seeking to avoid a ruling that a client has been convicted of a crime of violence aggravated felony. Read the full Practice Advisory here [PDF].

En Banc Court Reverses Adverse Holding, Says Immigrants Can Pursue Cases from Outside the United States

January 30, 2012 - Today, an en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit rejected the government’s attempt to bar noncitizens from seeking to reopen their cases from outside the United States. This is the seventh appellate court to find the “departure bar”—a regulation barring noncitizens from pursuing their cases after departure or deportation—unlawful and is a step forward in protecting the right to a fair immigration hearing. The decision is particularly significant because the Tenth Circuit had been the only court at odds with the majority. The court had granted rehearing en banc to reconsider its prior decision.

Despite the overwhelming rejection of the departure bar, however, the government continues to defend the regulation and apply it to cases outside the circuits that have invalidated the bar. The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and the American Immigration Council (AIC) filed amicus briefs in the Tenth Circuit, and NIPNLG Staff Attorney Trina Realmuto argued before the court. Today both organizations renew the call for the agency to strike this unlawful regulation.

For more information, contact


2012 Michael Maggio Immigrants’ Rights Summer Legal Fellowship – DEADLINE is February 1, 2012

2012 Michael Maggio Immigrants' Rights Legal Fellowship. The Michael Maggio Immigrants' Rights Summer Fellowship was established in 2009 by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CHRCL), and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) to commemorate the life and extraordinary legal contributions of Michael Maggio. The Fellowship provides matching funds for a law student to work on an immigration-related, student-initiated project this summer. Applications will be accepted through February 1, 2012. The Fellow will be notified by March 1, 2012. To learn more and download the application, please visit For questions, please contact Susan Timmons at

New Practice Advisory Issued

The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, Immigrant Defense Project, and American Immigration Council jointly prepared a practice advisory that analyzes the impact of the Supreme Court’s very recent decision in the case of Judulang v. Holder, which rejected as “arbitrary and capricious’ the government’s interpretation of which long-term residents of the United States are eligible for a waiver. The practice advisory describes the favorable ruling on section 212(c) relief, and offers strategies for long-term permanent residents (LPRs) who are affected by it. Of particular note, some LPRs with final orders may wish to consider filing motions to reconsider within 30 days of the Court’s decision. Read the full Practice Advisory here [PDF].

Authoritative National Report Condemns Secure Communities Program: Law Enforcement Experts and Victims of S-Comm Conclude Program Should Be Ended

The National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the National Community Advisory Commission, in which the National Immigration Project is a member, made public an authoritative report condemning the Secure Communities deportation program and recommending its termination.
The report recommends that the Secure Communities be terminated, that the current OIG investigation of S-Comm be expanded to all ICE Access programs, that the Department of Justice begin its own investigation into the mysterious role of the FBI in Secure Communities, and that states not be compelled to share biometric data with ICE.

The report includes testimony from former District Attorney of New York Robert Morgenthau, heads of law enforcement, and victims of Secure Communities like Isaura (last name withheld to protect her identity) in Los Angeles whose 911 call for help resulted in her deportation proceedings.
 In contrast to the Department of Homeland Security appointed taskforce which has failed to enlist the voices of affected communities, scholars, or critics on the subject, this report constitutes a real deliberative and representative review of the program.

The National Community Advisory Commission issued the following statement:

“This report confirms what immigrant communities have long known. The program called Secure Communities results in the opposite. Entangling local police in immigration enforcement is not just bad policy as the experts testify. Conscripting local police into immigration enforcement has provoked a massive civil rights crisis our country now faces. The only suitable approach is to end Secure Communities.”

The Commission includes: American Friends Service Committee, Project Voice New England, Asian Law Caucus, CASA de Maryland, CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, Detention Watch Network, Grassroots Leadership, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, National Day Laborer Organizing Network, National Immigrant Justice Center, National Immigration Law Center, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyer’s Guild, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, Rights Working Group, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, We-Count!

The full report is available at

August press roundup

3 Aug. - Hispanically Speaking News - Noncitizens Right to Pursue Legal Action on Immigration Issues ... Re: The Third Circuit decision to reject the government’s attempt to bar noncitizens from seeking reopening or reconsideration of their cases from outside the U.S.

16 Aug. - Latina Lista - How much longer will Obama administration pretend it doesn't have ... Re: the release of a joint report co-authored by NIPNLG entitled RESTORING COMMUNITY: A National Community Advisory Report on ICE's Failed Secure Communities Program. The report is available here: Background on the Secure Communities Program here: as well as in this press brief:

19 Aug. - Media Matters for America - Fox "Straight News" Pushes Impeachment Of Obama Over Immigration ... Re: Fox's "Straight News" calling for President Obama's impeachment over a proposal to use prosecutorial discretion in immigration policy, despite the fact that the Bush Administration similarly invoked prosecutorial discretion to stop deportations of certain categories of immigrants. NIPNLG is cited as the source of a 2004 ICE memo evidencing the Bush administration's use of prosecutorial discretion.

20 Aug. - Hispanically Speaking News - Authoritative National Report Condemns Secure Communities Program
Re: the release of the RESTORING COMMUNITY report, available here:

22 Aug. - Nashville SceneDean Rebuked For Villegas Comments; Motion to End 287(g) Filed Re: NIPNLG and the Southern Poverty Law Center's backing of Nashville attorney Elliot Ozment's filed motion to end the 287(g) immigration agreement between Nashville and federal authorities.

23 Aug. - The Tennessean - The Southern Poverty Law Center and an immigration group have ... Re: same as above (Attorney Elliot Ozment's filed motion to end 287(g) in Nashville, TN).

23 Aug. - The Republic (Columbus, Indiana) - 2 rights groups file brief supporting call for sheriff to halt ... Re: same as above (Attorney Elliot Ozment's filed motion to end 287(g) in Nashville, TN).

FOIA Litigation Uncovers 2008 Memorandum of Agreement Regarding DHS’ Parole Authority

August 17, 2011 - For several years, advocates have struggled with how to return deported clients to the United States clients after a federal court or immigration court
invalidates their removal orders. A major obstacle has been DHS’s lack of any guidance on even the basic question of which agency bears responsibility for handling these matters. Now, DHS finally has made public a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which sheds some light on what successful litigants and their attorneys can expect from DHS. The case is National Immigration Project v. DHS, No. 11-CV-3235 (S.D.N.Y., May 12, 2011).

Read the complete press release here [PDF]

Read the DHS Memo here [pdf]


August 15, 2011 - The National Immigration Project joins immigrant communities and women’s rights advocates to oppose the deeply problematic “Secure Communities” program. Immigrant women are increasingly breadwinners and often provide more stability for their family. Yet they are criminalized, and sometimes brutalized, for trying to keep families safe and healthy.

Read the complete press release here [PDF]

DREAM Defenders Join Forces to Support Students at Risk of Deportation

August 10, 2011 - The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) is pleased to announce the formation of DREAM Defenders, a collaboration amongst student groups and immigration advocacy organizations that includes the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), United We Dream (UWD), Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC), DREAM Activist and the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA).

Through DREAM Defenders, NIPNLG and AILA members will provide pro bono legal representation to stop the deportation of DREAMers, immigrant students who may qualify for the DREAM Act. Already, dozens of NIPNLG members have signed up to provide legal representation or assistance for DREAMers in detention or facing deportation.

Read the complete NIPNLG press release here [PDF]

Educators For Fair Consideration press release here [PDF]

United We Dream press release here [PDF]

Another Court Upholds Immigrants' Right to Pursue Case From Outside the U.S.

August 3, 2011 (via American Immigration Council) - Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit joined the growing list of courts to reject the government’s attempt to bar noncitizens from seeking reopening or reconsideration of their cases from outside the United States. The American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, which filed a joint amicus brief in the case and argued before the court, applaud the court’s ruling. “The court’s decision is yet another step in protecting the important safeguards that Congress put in place to help ensure that noncitizens are not unlawfully separated from their families,” said Beth Werlin of the Legal Action Center.

The Legal Action Center and the National Immigration Project have coordinated litigation on this issue nationwide and call on the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to abandon its misguided regulation barring review of motions filed by noncitizens outside the United States. To date, six courts of appeals have rejected the departure bar. And just this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, the only court with a decision at odds with the majority, granted rehearing en banc to address the validity of the departure bar. “The writing is on the wall. It’s past time for the government to stop cutting off access to the BIA and immigration courts by defending this clearly unlawful regulation,” said Trina Realmuto of the National Immigration Project.

Read AIC's complete press release here [PDF].

Read the Decision here [PDF].

National Immigration Project Names 2011 Award Recipients

August 3, 2011 - The National Immigration Project is pleased to announce that Holly Cooper will receive the 2011 Carol Weiss King Award and that the Uncover the Truth Campaign will receive the Daniel Levy Award.

Holly Cooper, a clinical professor at University California at Davis Law School, is a creative litigator, inspiring mentor, and a tireless advocate for immigrant and human rights.  Holly will receive the award at the National Lawyers Guild annual dinner, which this year will be held in Philadelphia on October 15, 2011. Join us to congratulate Holly by placing an ad in the NLG's dinner journal!

Dinner Journal Ad Placement Form [PDF]

Uncover the Truth is a campaign initiated by the National Day Laborer Organization, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law to expose Police and ICE Collaboration.  Through FOIA actions, organizing, publishing reports and other activities, Uncover the Truth has played an important in shining a light on the harm caused by ICE collaboration with local police.  The Daniel Levy Award will be presented at the National Immigration Project’s 40th anniversary reception at the NLG convention in Philadelphia on October 13.

National Immigration Project releases its 2010 40th Anniversary Annual Report

May 25, 2011 - On behalf of the National Immigration Project Board, Staff, Interns, Funders, and Supporters, the NIPNLG is pleased to release its 2010 Annual Report, commemorating its 40th Anniversary year. Features include a 40-year Timeline, Letter from Executive Director Dan Kesselbrenner, 2010 Program Highlights, and List of Supporters. 2010 marked some significant victories for immigrant rights, against a backdrop of increasingly troubling U.S. immigration policies and practices. We are grateful to our communities for standing with the NIPNLG in 2010, helping us achieve important advances, while continuing to work in the forefront of immigrant justice.

Read the 2010 Annual Report here [PDF].

National Immigration Project and Allies File FOIA Complaint Seeking Government's Return Policy For Noncitizens Abroad

May 16 , 2011 - On behalf of the National Immigration Project, the ACLU, the Immigrant Defense Project, the Post-Deportation Human Rights Project, and Professor Rachel Rosenbloom, the New York University (NYU) Immigrant Rights Clinic filed a complaint against DHS, DOJ and the State Department alleging inadequate response by the agencies to a Freedom of Information Act request for materials on the agencies’ policy and practice of facilitating the return to the U.S. of individuals who successfully challenge their removal orders from outside the country. The case is National Immigration Project v. Department of Homeland Security, No. 11-CV-3235 (S.D.N.Y., May 12, 2011).

Read a summary of the complaint here [PDF].

Read the complaint here [PDF].

National Immigration Project argues successfully in Federal Court case upholding right to reopen cases after deportation

April 7, 2011 - In a victory for immigrant rights, a case argued by the National Immigration Project and the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center, in the Ninth Circuit today held that immigration officials cannot prevent noncitizens whom they have deported from exercising their statutory right to seek reopening of their immigration cases.

Read the press release here [PDF].

Read the Decision here [PDF].

National Immigration Project argues successfully in Federal Court case upholding immigrants' right to reopen cases from outside the U.S.

February 3, 2011 - A federal appellate court chastised the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) for preventing noncitizens from reopening their cases from outside the U.S. This important ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit repudiates the government’s view that immigration judges and the BIA lack “jurisdiction” over such cases. 

The National Immigration Project and the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center, which filed a joint amicus (friend of court) brief in the case, applaud the ruling. The two organizations coordinated litigation on this issue nationwide, and call upon the BIA to abandon its misguided regulation barring review of motions filed by noncitizens outside the U.S. 

Attorney Trina Realmuto of NIPNLG, who argued the case successfully, said, “The Sixth Circuit recognized that the regulation deprives noncitizens of their statutory right to present new evidence in their cases. The decision corrects the government’s unlawful attempt to separate families and opens the door for them to return to the U.S.” Attorney Beth Werlin of the Legal Action Center said, “A motion may be a person's only chance to present his case to the immigration judge. The government should take immediate steps to withdraw this unfair and outdated regulation rather than proceed with continued, unnecessary and costly litigation.”

Read the press release here [PDF].

Read the Decision here [PDF].

Houston Chronicle quotes National Immigration Project in story about wrongful death of immigrant worker

January 31, 2011 - In a very tragic story of a Salvadoran worker’s death due to employer negligence, the National Immigration Project was quoted in the Houston Chronicle, expressing support for the fact that companies should be held liable for the wrongful death of their employees -- regardless of a person's immigration or citizenship status.

Read the article here.


20th Anniversary of ABC Class Action Lawsuit

January 31, 2011 - Today marks the 20th Anniversary of the landmark class action settlement agreement in American Baptist Churches v. Thornburgh (“ABC”). In an era when holding the government accountable for violations of the rights of noncitizens and naturalized citizens remains extremely challenging, the National Immigration Project salutes the courageous Guatemalan and Salvadoran asylum seekers who persisted in challenging the legality of a governmental practice whereby asylum determinations were based upon U.S. foreign policy, rather than upon the merits of individual claims.

We also thank all who served on the ABC Legal Team for their tireless hours of litigation and for their successful negotiation of a triumphant settlement agreement. The individuals listed below were members of the legal team for the ACLU, Center for Constitutional Rights, Central American Refugee Center, Morrison & Foerster, and the National Lawyers Guild (we apologize for anyone who was left off this list inadvertently):

  • Lucas Guttentag
  • Ellen Yaroshefsky, Morton Stavis, and Frank Deale
  • Linton Joaquin
  • Lori A. Schechter, James J. Garrett, Michael L. Zigler, and Darryl L. Hamm
  • Marc Van Der Hout, Dan Kesselbrenner, Debbie Smith, and Patty Blum

Read an updated Practice Advisory that looks at the ABC decision 20 years later here [PDF].

New Deportation 101 Manual available for free download  

January 14, 2011 - The National Immigration Project is proud to announce the release of the January 2011 edition of Deportation 101 in both Spanish and English, available for free download. Deportation 101 is an educational and organizing curriculum for advocates and families seeking to fight back against the removal and immigration detention systems. The program was initiated by Families for Freedom and the Immigrant Defense Project, and later joined in partnership by Detention Watch Network and the National Immigration Project.  

Read the Spanish version here [PDF].

Read the English version here [PDF].


Washington Post quotes National Immigration Project on Padilla

January 13, 2011 - The National Immigration Project comments on the role of the Padilla decision in a Washington Post article about noncitizens' ability to obtain post-conviction relief. 


NIPNLG Files Federal Lawsuit against Police who Stopped and Beat Latino Man

August 23, 2010 - The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and civil rights attorney Brian Spears filed a federal civil rights lawsuit today against two Cobb County, Georgia police officers over the stop, arrest and beating of an unarmed Latino man. They also joined the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) to call on the federal government to terminate the county’s 287(g) agreement due to the civil rights abuses perpetuated by the program. 

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Angel Francisco Castro Torres, who was riding his bicycle in Smyrna, GA, when he was stopped by Cobb County police officers Jeremiah M. Lignitz and Brian J. Walraven. According to their own account, the officers, who are the named defendants in the complaint, stopped him after observing his race. The officers immediately demanded Castro’s identification and questioned his immigration status. He was also beaten, resulting in a broken nose and eye socket, and arrested.

“Officers of the law must be held accountable when they go beyond the law -- and beyond the bounds of human decency,” said Trina Realmuto, staff attorney at the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. “Communities should be able to look to the police for protection, not seek protection from the police.”

Read the full press release here [PDF].

Read the Complaint here [PDF].


New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice Will Receive 2010 Daniel Levy Award

August 11, 2010 - The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild is proud to announce that the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ) is this year’s recipient of the DANIEL LEVY AWARD for excellence in pursuing creative and socially conscious approaches to advocacy in the immigration law field. The award reception will take place at Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Thursday, September 23, 2010, from 5:30-7:00pm at the National Immigration Project’s evening cocktail reception following its annual membership meeting. The event is part of the 2010 National Lawyers Guild Convention.

About the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ): The New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ) was founded in response to the stark exclusion of African American workers and the brutal exploitation of immigrant workers in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Center is harnessing multi-racial partnerships and power to transform democracy, place communities of color at the center of decision-making about their lives, and drive a poor people’s agenda.  NOWCRJ organizes African American residents facing displacement, immigrant day laborers, and guestworkers, to build a powerful social movement for dignity and rights. NOWCRJ anchors three membership organizations: STAND, the Congress of Day Laborers, and the Alliance of Guestworkers for Dignity.


Support in Arizona

July 29, 2010 - Demonstrators opposing Arizona’s repressive SB1070 law took part in actions on July 29, 2010, with support from the National Immigration Project and its members. Associate Director Paromita Shah developed materials, activated Project members, and provided technical assistance to Puente, a Phoenix-based grassroots human rights organization. Paromita also assisted the Arizona local action legal team so that noncitizens would be aware of the immigration consequences of engaging in civil disobedience.

Community groups deemed the protest important despite the injunction of July 28th due to the history of extreme anti-immigrant conduct by Sherriff Joe Arpaio, and the fact that the injunction did not enjoin some key provisions, namely one that authorizes arrests for solicitation of work (which specifically targets day laborers).

Project members were among the most active of all the immigration attorneys on the Legal Action team. With the help of Kara Hartzler, the Project created a “cheat sheet” about civil disobedience offenses, an advisal document, and modified documents used by the Legal Action team to better track noncitizens who were arrested. Special thanks to Margarita Silva, who is representing a protester arrested after unveiling a massive banner (“Stop Hate”-No to 287g/No to SB1070) on Sheriff Arpaio's building. Thanks also to Arizona attorneys and Project members Emilia Banuelos, Margo Cowan, Judy Flanagan, Kara Hartzler, Suzannah Maclay, and Margarita Silva, and to out-of-town attorneys and Project members Marlene Dougherty and Eric Garde, for providing on-site consultation. Enormous thanks and accolades to Sunita Patel for her tireless work as back-up legal support for the attorneys in Phoenix, and to Ellen Kemp, Director of Legal Advocacy, for her help recruiting NIPNLG members for the protests.


Barbara Hines is the National Immigration Project's 2010 Carol Weiss King Award Recipient

July 23, 2010 - The National Immigration Project announces the 2010 recipient of its Carol Weiss King Award for excellence in the pursuit of social justice through organizing, litigating, and teaching. This year’s award will go to Barbara Hines, one of NIPNLG ’s most dedicated allies in the struggle for immigrant rights. Ms. Hines will be presented with her award on Saturday, September 25, 2010, at the annual National Lawyers Guild Convention at Hotel Monteleone, 214 Rue Royale, New Orleans, LA. Dinner banquet tickets and convention information available at

About Barbara Hines: Barbara Hines co-directs the immigration clinic at the University of Texas School of Law. Professor Hines was a two-time Fulbright scholar in Argentina, researching Argentine immigration law and also teaching U.S. immigration law, respectively. She served as the first Co-Director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law of Texas, Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Immigration Project. In nominating Ms. Hines, a colleague wrote “Few of us can aspire to having such an ambitious career that includes community education and organizing, litigation, and teaching.  Barbara has excelled in all of those areas and continues to be an inspiration to us to all." The National Immigration Project is pleased to honor her outstanding commitment with the 2010 Carol Weiss King award.


Sample Carachuri-Rosendo Motions

June 14, 2010 - holds that a person who has been convicted of a second or subsequent simple possession of a controlled substance offense has not been convicted of an aggravated felony at least where there was no finding of a prior conviction. In light of this important decision, the National Immigration Project has issued a practice advisory and sample motions.


Norton Tooby is the National Immigration Project’s 2010 AILA Reception Honoree

June 8, 2010 - The National Immigration Project is proud honor Mr. Norton Tooby at the annual American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) conference in National Harbor, MD on Friday, July 2, 2010 from 6-7:30pm.
Norton Tooby has been a member of the National Lawyers Guild since he started law school in 1967. Upon graduation, he and others founded the first law collective in the U.S. in which legal workers and lawyers were paid equally. Norton contributed to mass criminal defense work of demonstrators and draft resisters during the Vietnam war, and to the Wounded Knee Legal Defense/Offense Committee, which achieved a 95% acquittal and dismissal rate in 300 federal prosecutions following the occupation of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, by the American Indian Movement. Norton’s criminal defense work culminated in a California death penalty appeal, in which he obtained reversal of all convictions resulting in his client being set at liberty.
Since 1986, Norton has increasingly concentrated on the criminal defense of immigrants, helping raise the standard of practice of criminal defense lawyers to protect the immigration status of noncitizen clients. To help the National Immigration Project honor this distinguished member of our community, please consider placing an ad in the commemorative program being produced for the occasion. Rates are as follows: 

• Full-page ad (5 x 8):  $700
• Half page ad (5 x 3 ¾ ): $400
• 1/4 - page ad (3 ¾ x 2 ½ or 5 x 2):  $250
• 1/8 - page ad (2 ½ x 2):  $150
• Simple listing (no message): $50

Ads must be placed by June 18, 2010. There is no charge to attend the reception. Please contact Pamela Goldstein for further information. 


Board Members honored at AILA conference 

June 8, 2010 - National Immigration Project Board members Maria Baldini-Potermin and Ahilan Arulanantham will each receive an award at this year’s American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) conference taking place June 30-July 3, 2010. Ms. Baldini- Potermin will be presented with the Edith Lowenstein Award for excellence in advancing the practice of law. Mr. Arulanantham will be awarded the Jack Wasserman Memorial Award for excellence in litigation in the field of immigration law. Congratulations to Maria Baldini-Potermin and Ahilan Arulanantham! 


New Deportation 101 Manual 

June 6, 2010 - The National Immigration Project is proud to announce the release of the May 2010 edition of Deportation 101 in both Spanish and English. Deportation 101 is an educational and organizing curriculum for advocates and families seeking to fight back against the removal and immigration detention systems. The program was initiated by Families for Freedom and the Immigrant Defense Project, and later joined in partnership by Detention Watch Network and the National Immigration Project. The Deportation 101 training will be offered in Austin, TX on June 12 and June 13, 2010.  


National Immigration Project Files Amici Brief Seeking to Maintain IJ Jurisdiction Over Bond Hearings Following Transfer

June 2010 - In December 2009, the National Immigration Project issued a practice advisory* addressing why immigration judges continue to have jurisdiction to conduct a bond hearing after a person is transferred. The advisory includes a model brief, sample bond hearing applications, and sample letters to the Department of Homeland Security. In continuance of this work, the National Immigration Project, along with the Maxwell Street Legal Clinic and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, recently filed an amici curiae brief in a case before the Board upon certification by the Charlotte Immigration Court. In its brief, amici argue that interpreting 8 C.F.R. § 1003.19(c) as a procedural regulation would comport with the regulation’s language and purpose, facilitate prompt bond hearings, and improve access to counsel, including communication between attorneys and detainees. Click here to download [PDF]


Litigating Law Enforcement Misconduct in the Immigration Context 

May 21, 2010 - Albuquerque, NM. The National Immigration Project and the National Police Accountability Project (NPAP), both projects of the National Lawyers Guild, teamed up for a day-long seminar in Albuquerque, NM on litigating damages actions against federal immigration and detention officers. The immigration bar routinely encounters situations in which a damages action may be appropriate. However, many immigration lawyers are unfamiliar with the requirements and process of filing, and litigating, damages actions against the government.  The training was designed for both immigration lawyers and civil rights and police misconduct attorneys to share expertise and knowledge about their respective fields, furthering their common goal of combating misconduct inflicted by law enforcement.

The seminar, made possible by a grant from the Four Freedoms Fund, provided in-depth training on the procedural vehicles for bringing suit (the Federal Tort Claims Act and Bivens), common motions litigators might confront, and discovery techniques, strategies, and related issues. During lunch, the lead lawyers who had just filed a class action lawsuit (Friendly House et al. v. Whiting) challenging the recent Arizona law SB 1070 discussed their lawsuit, representing the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Immigrants' Rights Project, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). The New Mexico event also marked the launch a mentorship program whereby National Immigration Project members who seek to litigate damages on behalf of noncitizens will be matched with an experienced NPAP or National Immigration Project attorney (thirty-seven experienced litigators already have enrolled). The seminar, which was very positively reviewed, connected two important networks which share one common goal: combating misconduct inflicted by law enforcement.


National Immigration Project supports Trail of Dreams students  

May 1, 2010 - The National Immigration Project supported the national Trail of Dreams students during their May 1, 2010 action in Washington, D.C. to urge Executive and Congressional action on the federal Dream Act. The National Immigration Project coordinated legal representation for the students, who participated in a well-publicized civil disobedience action in front of the White House, seeking to draw attention to their plight as undocumented students within the United States. Project members Andres Benach, Ofelia Calderon, Thomas Ragland, and Xavier Racine volunteered to represent the Dream walkers, and the National Immigration Project helped secure legal observers for the May Day event.  


Rights groups demand information about “Secure Communities” 

April 27, 2010 - The National Immigration Project partnered with the Uncover the Truth campaign to expose the staggering growth of police-ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) collaborations across the U.S. Despite the devastating consequences to communities, deportation programs like the Department of Homeland Security’s inaptly named “Secure Communities” program are slated to be enacted in every U.S. jail by 2013 -- without the public, elected officials, and sometimes police chiefs themselves knowing.  

The “Uncovering the Truth” week of activities was a coordinated effort to help local groups ask questions and seek answers about police and ICE collaboration in their communities, and to urge lawmakers in Congress to hold the Department of Homeland Security accountable. Uncover the Truth is spearheaded by the National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON) and the Center for Constitutional Rights, which were joined by the National Immigration Project in the campaign’s national launch on April 27, 2010. The National Immigration Project provided technical assistance, public education materials, and support to the Washington, DC coalitions opposing the implementation of Secure Communities in the District of Columbia. 

On May 4, 2010, Washington, DC Council members introduced the “Secure Communities Act of 2010” with the unanimous support of the Council, a groundbreaking bill to prohibit the DC Metropolitan Police from sharing arrest and booking information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). On May 17th, the National Immigration Project co-presented a webinar for community-based organizations nationwide to learn how to resist unlawful collaborations that threaten the health and safety of their communities. 


Opposing the Arizona law 

April 2010 - The National Immigration Project supports the lawsuit brought by its allies at the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants' Rights Project (ACLU), the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and the Mexican Legal Education and Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) (gentle hyperlink to to challenge Arizona’s new law SB 1070, slated to go into effect in July 2010. The law allows law enforcement to question individuals about their immigration status during everyday police encounters, and makes failing to carry one’s documents, for immigrants, a crime. The National Immigration Project believes the law to be unconstitutional. Further, it encourages racial profiling, endangers public safety, and betrays American values. Read more here.


National Immigration Project plays influential role in Supreme Court decision Padilla v. Kentucky 

March 31, 2010 - The National Immigration Project played an influential role in the Supreme Court's watershed decision in Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S. Ct. 1473 (March 31, 2010). This decision dramatically expands the scope of effective assistance to immigrants facing criminal charges, thereby creating an unprecedented opportunity for immigrant defendants to have a meaningful opportunity to protect their ability to remain in the U.S.  

The National Immigration Project signed onto an amicus brief that highlighted all of its work and training for the past 20 years -- in Kentucky and nationwide -- that the Court used as evidence to support its conclusion that competent criminal defense practitioners advise their clients about immigration consequences. In addition, Executive Director Dan Kesselbrenner’s co-authored book, Immigration Law and Crimes, which was first published in 1984 and is updated regularly, was cited in the Supreme Court decision. This decision helps the Project achieve its long-term goal of defending and expanding the rights of all immigrants in the U.S., especially those most often dispossessed by the criminal justice and larger social systems. 

Alongside partner organizations, the National Immigration Project already has begun developing a skeletal national structure and possible service delivery models, and thus is well-positioned to undertake the steps necessary for effective implementation of Padilla. Its key challenge, however, will be to secure the funding necessary to leverage the Project’s leadership capacity in implementing Padilla-mandated changes. 


Comments submitted to US Sentencing Guidelines 

March 2010 - The National Immigration Project submitted comments* to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, prepared by Carrie Rosenbaum of San Francisco. These comments argue that the United States Sentencing Guidelines should allow a federal judge to give a downward departure in a defendant's sentence because of the additional consequences that a noncitizen defendant faces.  Click here to download PDF.


National Immigration Project - Archives of News
Photo by Paromita Shah

Associate Director Paromita Shah with Trail of Dreams students Felipe Matos, Juan Rodriguez, and a student from Haiti.

Washington, D.C. May 1, 2010