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.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has created opportunities for individuals to get protection from deportation, among other benefits, if they have suffered abuse from a spouse or certain family members. This brief overview walks through the immigration eligibility and benefits involved with VAWA.
This advisory contains general information shared by USCIS staff during the September 2022 stakeholder event. It contains notes compiled by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) VAWA, U, and T National Committee and reflects USCIS responses to questions posed by the committee and partners.
his fact sheet describes new Cal. Penal Code 372.5 (AB 2195). As of January 1, 2023, a California defendant who is charged with any of several drug offenses, from infractions to felonies, can ask for the drug charge/s to be dismissed and instead to plead guilty to being a “public nuisance” (Penal Code § 370). Section 372.5 provides that in this circumstance, the public nuisance offense is punishable as an infraction, a misdemeanor, or a “wobbler” offense, depending on the offense level of the drug charge that was dropped. The defense must decide to ask, and the prosecution must agree, to go forward with Penal Code 370/372.5.
On October 19, 2022, USCIS published major revisions to their Policy Manual on the English and/or Civics disability waiver for naturalization applicants. Overall, these changes were a welcome improvement in access to the disability waiver. However, we opposed the sections in the revised Policy Manual and N-648 that add a question about understanding the oath of allegiance. The oath waiver and the English/civics disability waiver derive from separate sections of the law and have different eligibility standards.
This alert describes recent changes to the naturalization disability waiver. On October 19, 2022, USCIS announced major revisions to the Form N-648, which is used by naturalization applicants who seek a waiver of the English and/or civics requirement based on a disability or impairment that causes the applicant to be unable to learn or demonstrate knowledge of English and/or civics. USCIS also published major changes to the accompanying USCIS Policy Manual guidance.
Survivors of human trafficking and of domestic or sexual violence often are charged and convicted of offenses that arose as a direct result of their exploitation. For noncitizens, the criminal record can cause deportation or destroy their eligibility for humanitarian visas. In the last five years, California has enacted multiple laws to avoid this injustice in criminal court, including a defense to a criminal charge and a vehicle to vacate a past conviction for survivors who were coerced to commit the offense, or in other cases mitigation of sentence. This advisory describes the new criminal laws and their immigration effect, so that criminal defenders and immigration and survivor advocates are aware of these options.
Drug offenses cause the harshest, most disproportionate immigration penalties of any offense. Criminal defenders and immigration advocates need information to work aggressively to defend immigrant clients. This advisory provides strategies to avoid a drug conviction, including how and when to use Penal Code § 372.5 (2023), along with practice tips, resources, and arguments to support negotiating for an immigration neutral plea or disposition in criminal court.
In ILRC’s A Platform for Immigrant Justice: Executive Action the Biden Administration Must Enact we outline bold, urgent and necessary policy solutions the Biden administration must enact to ensure immigration benefits are more equitable and accessible and that the work of dismantling the oppressive systems of enforcement, detention and surveillance begins.
On October 5, 2022, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision in the Texas v United States case. In their decision, the Fifth Circuit agreed with Texas and found that the DACA policy is unlawful but sent the case back to the Southern District of Texas to consider the recently issued final DACA rule. The Fifth Circuit maintained the court order allowing those who are eligible to continue to renew their DACA and apply for advance parole while the case is pending. More changes and updates are expected around the DACA policy as we wait for a decision. This resource is a list of frequently asked questions to help community members navigate the changes to DACA.
Sample questions about the sheriff’s policy positions on working with ICE that advocates or community members can use at candidate forums or other meetings. For more background information about sheriffs and their role in the deportation pipeline, see:
ICE has built and expanded a massive infrastructure of immigration jails, surveillance programs, and enforcement agents. The current enforcement-centered response to migration, supported by ever-increasing Congressional appropriations, has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deportations each year. Over the last two decades, the budget for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), which includes its account for immigration detention, has quadrupled. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, detention levels hit historic peaks of more than 50,000 people per day.
Consular processing is one of ways an individual can obtain lawful permanent residence. This process is often confusing and daunting to individuals who do not regularly work on these types of cases since the process is completed with a U.S. consulate abroad and involves interaction with several government agencies. This practice advisory provides an overview of the steps involved in a consular processing case and some considerations to keep in mind.
This practice advisory outlines the requirements and process of enrolling in Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the first time.  It provides an overview of the basic requirements for TPS and identifies red flag issues that require careful analysis. It provides guidance on the TPS application process, including preparing a waiver of inadmissibility. It also offers practical guidance about when to file in immigration court and when an eligible individual may qualify for late initial registration.
On September 26, 2022, the Ninth Circuit en banc panel held that GEO group was likely to succeed in their lawsuit to find California's private prison and dertention ba (Bonta-AB 32) unconstitutional, and could continue seeking a preliminary injunction to block the law pending further proceedings at the lower court level. This summary provides a review of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ en banc decision. This legal breakdown was composed by the California Dignity Not Detention Coalition, with special thanks to NIPNLG and Pangea Legal Services.
California has strict confidentiality laws that govern when and to whom records from dependency and youth justice (delinquency) proceedings may be released. Immigration advocates need to be aware of these laws and ensure they are complied with when representing individuals with California juvenile records. This guide provides an overview of the law and practical guidance for how to handle issues of juvenile confidentiality before USCIS.
Because survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes are among the most vulnerable populations in the immigration legal system, numerous laws and policies have been enacted to protect the confidentiality of their information and restrict the disclosure of that information. One source of important protections is codified at 8 U.S.C. § 1367 (Section 1367), which restricts identification of survivors with humanitarian relief claims and disclosure of their information.[1] This practice advisory discusses the ways in which federal law has been designed and implemented to protect information concerning abused immigrants, the policy laid out by U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agencies, and what advocates can do when the protection provisions are violated.
The final Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) rule was published on August 30, 2022 and is set to go into effect on October 31, 2022. This rule is an attempt to “preserve and fortify” the DACA policy as directed by President Biden’s January 20, 2021, memorandum titled “Preserving and Fortifying Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).” This practitioner’s guide delves into aspects of the rule and discusses the future of DACA considering the Texas-led lawsuit challenge to the legality of DACA now pending at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the current injunction barring the adjudication of initial DACA requests, and what to expect in the future.
Many undocumented immigrants are now eligible for Medi-Cal. Starting January 1, 2024, full-scope Medi-Cal is available to all income-eligible Californians, regardless of immigration status or age.

This bilingual, two-sided flyer is meant to provide a quick overview of eligibility and key notes regarding the healthcare benefit. Included are also links for identifying registration directories as well as a national directory for free or low-cost immigration legal services.