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.

There have been many recent developments regarding the litigation challenges to the Department of Homeland Security enforcement priorities. This brief guide provides a quick summary to help you keep up. In short, the Enforcement Priorities are currently still in effect, although a change could come within the next few weeks. Below you will additionally find the Fifth Circuit’s temporary stay of the lower federal district court’s preliminary injunction order. While these issues are quickly moving, this update is current as of September 2021.
Mortality from COVID-19 meant that many immigrant families grieved over lost family members, and simultaneously were faced with the loss of an immigration benefit that may have depended on the deceased relative. This practice advisory will explore the options that may remain for a surviving relative who has lost someone to COVID-19 where an immigration benefit was also involved. The three possible remedies are: Survivor benefits for widow(er)s of U.S. citizens (USCs) under INA § 201(b)(2)(A)(i); other benefits for certain surviving relatives under INA § 204(l); and humanitarian reinstatement of an approved I-130 petition.
ILRC submitted this comment to commend USCIS on the recent update to the USCIS Policy Manual, entitled “Assisted Reproductive Technology and In-Wedlock Determinations for Immigration and Citizenship Purposes.” We applaud USCIS on this update and clarification, which was necessary to comport with evolving reproductive technology and address disparate treatment under previous guidance. The change will improve the fair interpretation of “wedlock” in acquisition of citizenship cases and help ensure access to citizenship for all who qualify.
4.5 million people in America are on probation.  What is probation, and what does a probation officer do?  How are probation departments involved in immigration enforcement?  This short explainer seeks to provide basic information about probation and highlight the nefarious role that many probation agencies take in turning immigrants over to ICE for deportation.
 As attacks on immigrants continue and the DACA program remains in limbo, now more than ever, it is important that local elected officials take bold action to protect immigrants within their jurisdictions. This guide, co-authored by United We Dream, provides examples of local policies that help protect immigrants from deportation by: (1) reducing arrests, (2) protecting constitutional rights, and (3) appropriating local resources wisely.
Harris County, home to approximately 1.2 million immigrants, is one of the largest and most diverse counties in the United States. Unfortunately, it also operates an expansive jail system and is an epicenter of immigration enforcement. This report looks at criminal case outcomes before Harris County courts and highlights disparities between U.S. citizens and non-citizens in arrests, charges, bail, case disposition, and sentencing. Through this report, we seek to raise awareness about how non-citizens are unjustly treated in Harris County, and we provide key policy recommendations for stakeholders to take immediate action to address such inequities.
This resource, written by Human Impact Partners in collaboration with the ILRC and others as part of the Dignity Not Detention Coalition, outlines recommendations for what healthy, just, and supportive immigration policy can look like for unaccompanied youth immigrating to the US, without relying on detention or detention-like facilities. Rooted in the stories, experiences, and recommendations of young people who arrived in the US as unaccompanied youth, this resource draws from public health evidence documenting the health harms of detention in large-scale, restrictive settings. It puts forward a vision for ending the current system of detaining unaccompanied minors in harmful settings and for shaping healthy, just, and supportive immigration policy for unaccompanied youth. You can also check this resource for more important information from Human Impact Partners.
Contact tracing is a public health program that helps slow the spread of infectious diseases, like COVID-19 (coronavirus). Because COVID-19 is very contagious, many states have implemented contact tracing programs to protect communities from the virus. California launched California Connected, its contact tracing program, in May 2020. This resource, which describes the California Connected program in Q&A format, highlights issues of interest to the immigrant community, including the language competency of contact tracers, the confidentiality of shared personal information, and public charge considerations.
The Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (LRIF) created a limited-term program allowing many Liberians living in the United States to apply for permanent residence. Initially, LRIF’s application period opened on December 20, 2019 and was set to expire on December 20, 2020. On January 3, 2021, however, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021, extending the application period for LRIF for another year, until December 20, 2021.
As groups across Texas advocate for cite and release policies in their own localities, it has become increasingly important that we utilize values-based messaging in our campaigns. This guide, available in multiple languages, provides messaging recommendations to ensure there is unity in how we talk about cite and release. It provides suggested language to ensure inclusive messaging that uplifts the dignity and humanity of all community members, regardless of criminal history.
On July 16, 2021, a Federal District Court in Texas issued a ruling in Texas v. United States limiting the DACA policy and declaring it unlawful.  More detailed information on this decision will be offered in the coming days but for now it is important to understand how today’s ruling impacts the DACA community.    
While the immigration field has long explored how to provide legal services to underserved communities, determining how to deliver high quality services remotely became a universal concern during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, as organizations gradually return to in-person services, some are exploring how to integrate remote practices into this changed landscape. In this practice advisory, we review the ongoing impact of the pandemic on immigrant communities, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and immigration legal service agencies. We also provide lessons learned from agencies across the country that are continuing to think expansively about how to incorporate remote services to meet clients’ needs.
TPS is an important form of protection that has been the subject of many changes and updates over the last few years. A recent Supreme Court decision limiting where and how certain TPS holders can apply for permanent residence through a family member has created confusion in the community. This resource provides a quick overview of the rights and options of TPS recipients and outlines the paths to permanent residence that remain available to many TPS holders.
On June 14, 2021, USCIS announced a new “bona fide determination” process whereby certain U petitioners and their family members with pending U petitions can receive four-year work authorization and deferred action while they wait for full adjudication. This process could be very good for many of the 270,000 folks who have filed for a U visa and are waiting – but there are many folks left out, and of course, much of this depends on how the process is implemented. ILRC and ASISTA wrote this advisory to provide updated information on the new process and discuss eligibility, decisions and renewals, and other issues.
In June 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Sanchez v. Mayorkas that addressed a circuit split regarding whether a grant of TPS was an “admission” such that it allowed an applicant for permanent residence to meet the threshold “inspected and admitted or paroled” requirement to adjust status within the United States. Previously, the Sixth, Ninth, and Eighth Circuit Courts of Appeal had held that it did, whereas the Eleventh, Fifth, and Third Circuits had held that it did not. In Sanchez, the Supreme Court found that a grant of TPS is not an “admission” for adjustment purposes. This practice alert provides a brief summary of the Sanchez decision, discusses who is and is not impacted by the decision, and provides some suggestions for next steps and other resources.
In July 2021, African Communities Together, the UndocuBlack Network, and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center submitted a memo to USCIS outlining the reasons that an expired Liberian passport should be considered primary evidence of nationality for LRIF eligibility.
 ILRC submitted this comment in response to the recent update to the USCIS Policy Manual, entitled “Naturalization Eligibility and Voter Registration Through a State’s Benefit Application Process,” issued May 27, 2021, and effective immediately. ILRC wrote to commend USCIS on the addition of this update, suggest edits to the wording of the false claim ground to better reflect the law and avoid unintended expansion of this already broad ground, and encourage USCIS to include similarly limiting language in Volume 8 regarding the false claim and unlawful voting grounds of inadmissibility.
For many family members, being a derivative on a U petition may be the only way they will be able to get legal status in the United States. Because of this, it is important to understand when a derivative can be included on a petition and USCIS’s current interpretation of age-out protections. ICWC and ILRC wrote this advisory to address a changed interpretation of age-out protections for U visa derivatives.
Children and youth compose a significant portion of the U.S. immigrant population and often qualify for various forms of immigration relief, many of which involve an application filing fee. Under the Trump administration, USCIS promulgated a final rule intended to dramatically raise fees for many immigration application forms, including those available to young people, and would have limited access to fee waivers. The rule was blocked by federal courts, and after President Biden took office, the Department of Justice decided not to defend the rule, so it never took effect and for now immigration filing fees remain at the previously set amounts. This advisory reviews some of the main forms of immigration relief available to children and youth and the current fees for each, and summarizes the litigation and related efforts that ultimately defeated the Trump fee rule.
California has passed four bills in recent years concerning access to the U visa, an important form of immigration status. Although the federal government decides who receives a U visa, the state can increase access to the remedy by creating processes for noncitizens to obtain a U visa certification from law enforcement, a necessary part of the U visa petition. All of the bills address U visa certification. This advisory describes the California bills, who they apply to, and how practitioners can use them to advocate for U visa clients.
ICE enforcement priorities have changed under the Biden administration, signaling a return to the use of prosecutorial discretion. On May 27, 2021, the ICE Principal Legal Advisor issued guidance for OPLA attorneys about how and when to exercise prosecutorial discretion during various stages of removal proceedings. EOIR subsequently issued its own memo discussing EOIR policies related to the enforcement priorities. Building upon our previous practice advisory, Advocating for Clients under the Biden Administration’s Interim Enforcement Priorities, this practice alert from ILRC and NIPNLG provides immigration practitioners with a summary of the OPLA and EOIR guidance, including key information, practice tips, and takeaways.
Various pieces of legislation have been introduced in the US Congress in 2021 designed to provide immigration relief to certain members of the undocumented community.  In this resource, we provide a comparison of key provisions of some of these bills.  The ILRC applauds the leadership and organizing of immigrant communities who have bravely fought for years to ensure these proposals for relief are considered by Congress and that all members of our communities can live with dignity.  These bills are important steps forward in addressing the inequities in our immigration system, however the ILRC believes that legislative proposals should be fully inclusive so that individuals who have had contact with the criminal legal system are not disqualified for relief.