Areas of Expertise

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) immigration attorneys’ expertise focuses on family-based immigration, humanitarian relief, naturalization and citizenship, immigration enforcement, and removal defense.

Since 1979 we have helped expand the immigration expertise of attorneys, nonprofit staff, criminal defenders, and others assisting immigrant clients.

In addition to authoring the ILRC’s practice manuals, our expert attorneys have been published by Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB), American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA),, Huffington Post, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Center for Law and Social Policy, The Hill, LexisNexis Emerging Issues, and Fox News Latino.
We have also provided training to National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), American Bar Association Commission on Immigration, Federal Bar Association, The State Bar of California, Legal Aid Association of California, Judicial Council of California and more.

On December 22, 2020, the ILRC submitted comments in opposition to EOIR’s notice of proposed rulemaking regarding what constitutes “good cause” for a continuance in removal proceedings. The proposed changes severely restrict the circumstances in which respondents can obtain continuances in removal proceedings, as well as the number and length of continuances. These changes will have a devastating impact on respondents’ due process rights, essentially eliminate protections from removal for VAWA and U-visa petitioners, further interfere with the independence of immigration judges, and curtail administrative efficiency.
TPS recipients from six countries face potential termination of that protection from the Trump Administration, potentially impacting approximately 300,000 people.  This resource provides an update on the current status of TPS for these countries and what rights and options beneficiaries have.  It also outlines what they might expect as a result of legal challenges to the termination and under a new administration.
This practice advisory explains the various immigration consequences of a conviction for Assault under Texas Penal Code § 22.01 and provides tips for mitigating such consequences in criminal proceedings. This August 2022 update includes analysis of the Texas Assault statute in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Borden v. United States. The Texas Assault statute is complex and includes several subsections, so we have included a chart in the appendix describing the potential immigration consequences for each subsection of the Texas Assault statute.
ILRC filed comments opposing USCIS’s changes to discretion in adjustment because they violate existing case law. The changes represent an attempt to impose new eligibility requirements that are also a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because they went into effect without the required regulatory notice and comment process. The agency has provided no explanation for this abrupt departure from prior procedure and application of the law. In addition, the policy manual will unduly burden eligible applicants and USCIS adjudicators by requiring a separate, lengthy adjudication of thirty specific discretionary factors under a heightened burden of proof that requires adjustment applicants to show “clearly and beyond doubt” that they are eligible for adjustment. The new emphasis on a balancing of a myriad of factors invites arbitrary and inconsistent application of the law.
On December 4, 2020 a federal judge ordered the Department of Homeland Security to fully restore the original DACA Program. Allowing for the continuation of renewals, and opening the program to first time applicants. This resource is a summary on what this means for the community, how it impacts those looking to apply, and what next steps someone can take. 
In October 2020, DHS and DOJ published a final regulation that sets out wide-ranging and draconian bars to applying for, and bases to terminate a grant of, asylum. For example, the bars include conviction of any felony, any controlled substance offense, a single DUI with injury, a DUI with a DUI prior (regardless of injury), and domestic violence bars based on the underlying conduct.
Local elected officials have significant power to enact policies that protect their immigrant residents. From ordinances limiting involvement with ICE to decriminalization to terminating detention contracts, this toolkit for organizers and policy makers chronicles and explains the importance of different reforms.  Rather than provide a one-size-fits-all model ordinance, we have selected some of the best language from policies enacted by cities, counties, and states, and organized those policy ideas into different issue areas to help people prioritize according to the needs of their community. We identify the key policy intervention and link to examples of where state and local governments have taken this on.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a myriad of challenges for immigration legal service providers. While some research and best practices for providing remote legal services have been developed, serving immigrant survivors of domestic violence requires a unique set of considerations. This advisory describes the findings of a small study exploring how service delivery models have been adapted for this vulnerable population during the pandemic. The advisory outlines the concerns, strategies, and lessons learned from the field in order to continue to serve immigrant survivors throughout the pandemic and beyond.  
In some cases, the amount of an imposed, potential, or served criminal sentence can determine the outcome of the immigration case. The law governing how state sentencing dispositions affect immigration penalties is fast-changing. The good news is that an informed defender often can structure a sentence that gives the prosecution what they require, while avoiding immigration penalties. An informed immigration advocate wants to be able to explain this to an immigration judge or adjudicator to win the case.
T nonimmigrant status (often called a “T visa”) is a form of immigration relief for survivors of human trafficking that provides four years of lawful immigration status, employment authorization, access to certain public benefits, and the opportunity to apply for lawful permanent residency. However, the current U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy on Notices to Appear (NTA), which has been in effect since 2018, has drastically increased the risks of applying for T nonimmigrant status. Although T visas remain a vital pathway to lawful status for trafficking survivors, there are various considerations that trafficking survivors and their advocates should keep in mind when deciding whether to submit affirmative T visa applications. Although USCIS issued its NTA Memo in June 2018, it was not officially implemented against T visa applicants until November 2018, and practitioners did not begin reporting many denials and NTAs issued until 2019. Now that advocates have experienced the NTA Memo’s implementation, this advisory reviews the policy’s impact on noncitizens applying for T nonimmigrant status as survivors of a severe form of human trafficking, with practice tips interspersed throughout.
This resource includes an update regarding the ongoing Gonzalez v. ICE federal litigation. On September 11, 2020, the Ninth Circuit issued a decision which includes some important changes to the February 2020 Central District of California federal court order. We have included an update on the first page which discusses what has changed, followed by information from our April 2020 resource. Please note that some of the information in our April 2020 resource related to the previous district court order is no longer applicable.
President Trump has imposed travel restrictions blocking the entry of certain immigrants who are outside the United States and trying to enter. These restrictions last through December 31, 2020. The travel restrictions apply based on type of visa and/or the country where the traveler resides or has spent time in immediately prior to their attempted entry to the United States. The restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (green card holders). This brief guide outlines which visas and countries are covered by the restrictions.
As many people consider exercising their right to protest, it’s important to note the unique harm certain convictions can cause for noncitizen protestors. Immigration consequences are highly specific and can typically only be determined by a thorough, case-by-case analysis. Nevertheless, this resource provides  key red flags and suggestions for California defenders representing noncitizen protestors.
Noncitizens participating in demonstrations or protests can risk arrest and can face certain convictions that could bar some forms of immigration relief or increase the risk of deportability. For this, and other reasons, noncitizen clients with protest-related charges are at a heightened risk of facing immigration consequences. Defense counsel can help protect immigrants from these consequences by negotiating dispositions to alternative charges that avoid or mitigate the immigration consequences.
Despite many changes to the DACA program, DACA recipients are currently allowed to travel abroad if they are approved for Advance Parole. This resource provides an overview of the requirements, tips, and considerations for traveling abroad under Advance Parole as a DACA recipient.
On July 28, 2020 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a new memorandum that severely limited the DACA program. This announcement has left immigrant youth and allies working tirelessly to inform the community of the new changes and the rights DACA recipients have. This DACA workers' guide, prepared in partnership United We Dream and Texas AFL-CIO, is meant to answer some of the most common questions regarding DACA recipients and their rights in the workplace.
This report provides a summary analysis of the ways that federal officials have consciously sought to politicize the naturalization process during the 2020 election year in what appears to be a novel form of voter suppression. The report also examines the potential impact of this novel form of voter suppression in closely watched states in the upcoming presidential election, and details immediate steps that federal officials can take to mitigate these harms, allowing tens of thousands of additional U.S. residents to become citizens in time to obtain the right to vote.
California is in the midst of an historic reform of its youth prisons, known as the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Failed DJJ facilities will close, creating an opportunity for youth to be cared for close to home through community-based programs and services. This short resource describes steps that community-based advocates must take to ensure that the closure addresses the needs of ALL impacted communities, including immigrant youth. 
AB 32, codified at Cal. Pen. Code §§ 5003.1, 9500 et. seq., was authored by Assembly member Bonta and passed in partnership with the California Dignity Not Detention Coalition. AB 32 stops the use of for-profit prisons by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The las also bans the operation of private detention facilities in both the civil and criminal context, aside from specific exemptions. The GEO Group and the Federal government have sued the state of California, alleging the law to be an unconstitutional attempt to regulate immigration enforcement, and requesting a preliminary injunction to stop the law from going into effect. In October 2020, Judge Sammartino largely denied this request, largely finding the law constitutional. The ILRC, along with Human Rights Watch, and Freedom for Immigrants, submitted an amicus brief in this case. Litigation is ongoing. Select documents relevant to this suit are provided below.  
SB 29, the Dignity Not Detention Act, codified at Cal. Civ. Code § 1670.9, was authored by Senator Lara, co-sponsored by the ILRC and Freedom for Immigrants, and passed in partnership with the California Dignity not Detention Coalition.  Among other things, SB 29 was passed to ensure that the community would have a voice on an issue which so critically impacts them; immigration detention.  Prior to the approval of any permit for any immigration detention center, SB 29 requires that the public be provided with 180 days notice and two public hearings where public testimony is taken and heard. The ILRC and Freedom for Immigrants, in partnership with local community groups, have sued the City of McFarland and GEO whom we believe approved permits to convert two CDCR facilities into immigration jails in violation of SB 29. Litigation is ongoing. Select documents relevant to this suit are provided below.
USCIS attempted to drastically limit fee waiver availability and fee waiver standards through the 2020 fee rule. The agency also tried to limit fee waivers by changing the I-912 fee waiver form. For now, these attempted changes have been stopped by injunctions. Applicants can continue to apply for fee waivers based on the 2011 fee waiver guidance.