Immigrant Justice Network

About IJN

The ILRC has long been committed to changing current discriminatory and punitive immigration laws and policies to ensure that the fundamental American values of fairness and due process are upheld for all immigrants. After years of collaboration, we officially joined forces with the Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) and the National Immigration Project (NIP/NLG) in 2006 to form the Immigrant Justice Network (IJN). IJN’s chief goal is to protect the rights of immigrants accused of crimes during the criminal justice process, halt expanding criminalization, and seek just immigration reform for all immigrants, including those with prior contact with the criminal justice system.

Who we are:

As specialists in the complex area of immigration consequences of criminal convictions, our organizations have worked for decades to provide legal, technical, and messaging support to immigrant communities, legal practitioners, and all advocates seeking to advance the rights of noncitizens.

Our goals:

As mentioned above, our chief goal is to protect the rights of immigrants accused of crimes during the criminal justice process, halt expanding criminalization, and seek just immigration reform for all immigrants, including those with prior contact with the criminal justice system. Specifically:

  • The network strives to eliminate unjust immigration penalties for immigrants, and end the criminalization of immigrant communities.
  • We seek to roll back the 1996 laws triggering mandatory deportation and detention, to minimize the criminal bars to legalization, to restore judicial discretion, and stop further expansion of the harsh 1996 laws.
  • We envision a society where all people receive fair and equal treatment under the law.

Our past successes:

  • Coordinated campaigns to end state involvement in mass deportation programs, such as Secure Communities. For example, we helped pass detainer discretion policies in localities across the country, including Santa Clara, District of Columbia, and New York City. Created community resources to help others form, implement, and message their detainer campaigns;
  • Fought back against harmful provisions in prior legislation, such as VAWA, that would undermine due process and fairness for immigrants with criminal convictions by collaborating with allies;
  • Provided bill analyses and messaging assistance for provisions in prior federal reform legislation impacting immigrants accused or convicted of a crime;
  • Built support and power amongst groups who could be aligned with our values, but are not always part of the larger immigration discussion. For example, based on our strong connections to criminal and juvenile justice groups, we have successfully reached out to defense organizations, prosecutors, criminal court judges, criminal and juvenile justice reform advocates, drug policy advocates, and law enforcement officers.
  • Authored legal treatises, practice advisories, and coordinate litigation strategies involving the immigration consequences of crimes.

Our current work on federal immigration reform:

The growing political consensus for immigration reform provides an opportunity for IJN to seek immigration reforms by:

  • Pursuing a communications strategy that disrupts the dominant narratives surrounding immigrants convicted of crimes;
  • Bringing new voices and allies into the national conversation;
  • Providing our expertise and technical support to existing legislative strategies and grassroots field operations.

Federal Immigration Reform 2013

Read IJN’s analyses on key areas of immigration reform that would promote fairness for all immigrants in the documents section below.

Proposed Senate Bill 744

View IJN’s 4/26 Webinar on S. 744, Criminal Bars to Immigration Reform: Creating a Pathway to Citizenship for All Immigrants. (Please note, you must be a member of the Immigration Advocates Network to view. Register for free membership here.)

View IJN’s Summary Analysis of criminal-immigration components of S.744

View IJN’s detailed analysis of S.744 provisions impacting immigrants accused or convicted of crimes

View CAMBIO Amendment Guide: Vote Recommendations for Amendments to Titles II and III of S. 744

Learn more about IJN below or download here

Media Resources

Op-ed by former immigration judge on need for broad waivers under federal immigration reform

Immigration Judges’ op-eds on need for discretion in immigration courts: Judge Dana Leigh Marks, President of the National Association of Immigration Judges and Judge Paul Grussendorf

Prosecutors’ op-eds on how immigration consequences interfere with criminal justice system:  Robert Johnson, former president of the National District Attorneys Association, and Steven Jansen, Vice-President of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys

View IJN blogposts

Paromita Shah: Expanding Domestic Violence Deportation Grounds Does No Favors to Survivors (May 20, 2013)

Alisa Wellek: Boston Should Not Be Excuse to Deny Human Rights in Immigration System (April 24, 2013)


Principles for Immigration Reform that Promote Fairness for All Immigrants

The ILRC, along with WDA, IDP, and NIP, summarize and discuss some of our immigration system’s most egregious aspects, outline five main principles to advocate for with immigration reform, and caution against possible new harmful provisions that we would have to fight for decades to come.

Senate “Gang of 8” Immigration Bill Needs More Work to Ensure Fundamental Fairness for All Immigrants

The long-delayed congressional debate over vital immigration reform begins this week following the filing of a bipartisan measure that creates a roadmap to citizenship for a portion of the 11 million immigrants now in the country without documents.