Mission: To ensure human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.
About the Organization: A program of the Heartland Alliance, the National Immigrant Justice Center was launched in 1984 as the Midwest Immigrant Rights Center to recruit, train, and coordinate the work of pro bono attorneys providing legal representation for asylum seekers fleeing counterinsurgency campaigns in Central America. With offices in Chicago, Indiana, and Washington, D.C., and a network of about a thousand pro bono attorneys, NIJC provides direct legal services to and advocates for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.
Current Programs: NIJC's current programs include the Jeanne and Joseph Sullivan Project for Protection of Asylum Seekers, which in 2014 provided legal counsel and representation to more than six thousand asylum seekers, refugees, unaccompanied children, and victims of human trafficking and domestic violence; the Immigrant Children's Protection Project, which advocates for children who face the possibility of deportation to a dangerous home country; and the Detention, Democracy, and Due Process Project, which uses litigation, policy advocacy, and strategic communications to uphold the due process protections of immigrants and advance systemic reform.
The center's Counter-Trafficking Project provides comprehensive legal services and case management for children and adult survivors of human trafficking, while its Gender Justice Initiative works to ensure that immigrant women have equal and safe access to legal services, that gender-based asylum claims are recognized, and that families stay together. In addition, the organization's Defenders Initiative offers training and resources to criminal defense lawyers with respect to the immigration consequences of pleas and convictions for immigrant defendants.
Website: Visitors to the NIJC website are invited to learn more about a range of issues, including immigration reform, immigration detention, and unaccompanied immigrant children; read about families and individuals that have been helped by the center; download NIJC research reports and/or get updates on the latest litigtion. The site also offers resources for immigrants — available in Spanish — including information about NIJC's client services, Deferred Action for DREAMers, immigrants' rights with respect to Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids and detention, and how to avoid fraud. Immigration attorneys can learn about the organization's pro bono program, view training webcasts, and/or access legal materials and other resources for attorneys. Visitors also can sign up to receive NIJC's newsletter and action alerts and learn how they can help.
Funding: NIJC is funded by foundations, corporations, and individuals.