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National Immigration Law Center

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Civil Rights, Ethnic & Immigrant Centers, Human Services, Immigration

Mission: Established in 1979, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is the only national legal advocacy organization in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their families. Over the past 34 years, NILC has won landmark legal decisions protecting fundamental rights, thwarted policies that would have devastated the well-being of low-income immigrants and their family members, and advanced policies that reinforce and promote equality, opportunity, and justice for all. NILC uses multiple strategies to advance its mission, including policy analysis, litigation, advocacy, communications, and education. Advocates across the country rely on NILC’s unique ability to employ these integrated approaches in its work, and provide them with the tools and information they need to shape their own advocacy efforts. NILC is playing an increasingly significant and influential role in the immigrants’ rights movement. Building upon its strong reputation as a highly respected source of information and guidance on a wide range of issues affecting low-income immigrants, the organization has recently emerged as more publicly prominent and persuasive advocate for progressive social change that can improve not only the lives of low-income immigrants, but of the country as a whole.

Results: We've had a hand in major policy changes. Highlights include: Building support for pro-immigrant state policies as a counterpoint to harsh enforcement approaches. Our work with local advocates to build the case that increasing immigrants' access to in-state college tuition rates and driver's licenses is good policy successfully swayed policymaker opinion in key states. The model legislation we supported in California, for example, served as a resource for advocacy across the U.S. Last year, eight states, including California, enacted laws providing access to driver's licenses regardless of immigration status, and five states adopted laws or policies expanding access to higher education for immigrant students. Spearheading national efforts over the past 12 years to push for policy solutions that expand opportunities for immigrants brought to the U.S. as children who are American in every way except for on paper. Our close coordination with the United We DREAM Network and key allies on this issue laid the foundation for creation of the "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," or DACA, program. DACA provides young people who qualify with temporary permission to remain in the U.S., pursue their educations, and get work permits. NILC is now co-leading the Own the Dream campaign to ensure that eligible young people have access to quality legal services so they can obtain relief from deportation and can pursue dreams. Co-leading class action legal challenges against state-level, anti-immigrant laws. We successfully blocked the most dangerous provisions of such laws passed in Arizona, Utah, Indiana, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama, and continue challenging the racial profiling provisions of Arizona's infamous SB 0170 that a last year's Supreme Court ruling failed to overturn. Leading the way to ensure that lawfully present immigrant families are covered by the new federal health care law by offering practical policy recommendations that preserve immigrants' access to care. This means that a broader group of immigrants will be able to obtain affordable health care, and that there are legal protections to better address enrollment barriers for "mixed-status" families.

Programs: Health and economic opportunities - nilc's health and economic justice program promotes low-income immigrant families' access to affordable, quality health care programs and services so that their families can thrive. Since enactment of the affordable care act, the program has analyzed and provided recommendations regarding proposed regulations to implement the law at the federal and state levels. The program also focuses on promoting uninsured immigrants' access to medical services beyond limited emergency services, as well as finding creative solutions to expand their access to quality, affordable health care. The program also works to increase immigrants' access to education, essential public benefits, and other resources and tools that immigrants need to have economic mobility and be fully incorporated into u. S. Society.

immigration enforcement and justice - nilc's immigration enforcement and justice program challenges harsh immigration enforcement laws and policies at the federal, state, and local levels that unjustly sweep people into the immigration detention and deportation system, tear families apart, encourage racial profiling, and undermine labor and civil rights. Nilc has co-led class action litigation challenges to sweeping state immigration laws and has prevented the most dangerous provisions of such laws from taking effect in many states across the country. Nilc conducts policy advocacy and litigation regarding state restrictions of immigrant access to driver's licenses. Nilc also provides advice and assistance to state and local legal services and other organizations across the country on enforcement issues, and advocates to minimize the harm of federal enforcement programs and to promote positive policies.

status and work authorization - nilc's immigration status and work authorization program promotes low-income immigrants' access to immigration status and employment authorization. The program also works to counter employer retaliation and exploitation of low-wage immigrant workers. Over the past year, a major part of nilc's work has consisted of policy advocacy regarding the deferred action for childhood arrivals (daca) program, and provision of support to local advocates assisting daca applicants, as well as advocacy regarding the not-yet-implemented deferred action for parents of americans (dapa) program.

other programs - in addition, nilc conducts advocacy at the federal, state and local level to promote positive changes in laws and policies on a wide variety of issues affecting low-income immigrants and their families, including promoting access to education and workforce development.

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