Immigrant Rights Initiative


Over the years, the Lawyers’ Committee has advocated on behalf of immigrant populations. It has engaged in litigation to protect the right to vote on behalf of recently naturalized citizens, policy work in support of the DREAM Act, and various forms of advocacy and amicus work. In light of these activities, it became apparent that there was a need for a coordinated initiative solely dedicated to immigrant rights issues.

The Initiative

The Immigrant Rights Initiative (IRI) seeks to increase the Lawyers’ Committee’s work on behalf of immigrant populations via impact litigation, public education, and policy advocacy. The centerpiece of this initiative features a collaboration with the Employment Discrimination Project to develop the Delmarva Migrant Justice program. The IRI team also works with staff in the Lawyers’ Committee’s subject matter projects on issues of common interest.  In addition, the IRI team works on amicus briefs, publishes issue briefs, and organizes forums.

The Lawyers' Committee & Immigrant Rights

The Lawyers’ Committee’s dedication to the defense of immigrant rights stems from its core mission to represent the interests of racial and ethnic minorities, and other victims of discrimination, where doing so can help to secure justice for all. The formation of the Immigrant Rights Initiative recognizes that an attack on immigrant groups is an attack on people of color residing in the United States.

What Do We Mean By "Immigrants?"

Immigrants are people who travel to the United States from another country and are undocumented or possess some form of temporary lawful status. They also include people who are U.S. Citizens but are treated as immigrants due to skin color, ethnic or racial background, accent, religious affiliation, place of residence, or due to family relation. All of these groups may be discriminated against, harassed, abused or exploited, or otherwise denied civil rights and other protections.

Legal Protections Afforded to Immigrants

Certain fundamental rights found under the U.S. Constitution and the Bills of Rights protect all people in the United States. For instance, Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures are not exclusive of citizenship or lawful status. Additionally, under many circumstances individuals with temporary or permanent lawful status and undocumented immigrants have the same legal protections afforded to U.S. Citizens, particularly as they pertain to housing, employment, education, and health and public safety laws.

Areas of Work:

Amicus Briefs
Delmarva Migrant Justice Program
Issue Briefs
Immigrant Rights Forums
Parental Readiness and Empowerment Program (PREP)
Public Policy & Press Releases

Practical Progressive - Official Selection 2008