March 06, 2018 ABA Commission on Immigration

Commission on Immigration

The Commission directs the Association’s efforts to ensure fair treatment and full due process rights for immigrants and refugees within the United States.

About the Commission

The Commission directs the Association’s efforts to ensure fair treatment and full due process rights for immigrants and refugees within the United States.

Lessons Across Borders: What the U.S. and Canada Can Teach One Another About Establishing a Successful Immigration and Asylum Policy 

February 3, 2018

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Cosponsored by the ABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities

This program panel was comprised of experts on U.S. and Canadian immigration law.  The panel explored issues related to the impact of skewing U.S. immigration policy towards skilled workers and away from protecting refugees and unifying families, if Canada is winning the competition for global talent, how overseas processing and private sponsorship programs affect refugee admissions, and if the Safe Third Country Agreement truly protecting refugees, as well as other issues.  

ABA News Article 

Deportation, Due Process and the New Frontier of U.S. Immigration Policy

August 11, 2017
Location: New York, New York

Cosponsored by the Judicial Division's National Conference of the Administrative Law Judiciary.

New U.S. immigration policies draw criticism from a lawyers at the forefront of the fray during “Deportation, Due Process, and the New Frontier of U.S. Immigration Policy,” on Aug. 11 at the ABA Annual Meeting in New York City. The discussion raises questions about how recent reforms can be reconciled with time-honored, due process protections and the U.S. image as a beacon of hope for those persecuted abroad.

Watch the highlights above.

Sanctuary Cities: Legitimate Law Enforcement Policy or Rogue Action?

May 19, 2017
Location: National Press Club in Washington, DC

Cosponsored by the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice.

This panel explored a variety of topics related to the concept of “sanctuary cities” in the context of current-day immigration enforcement, such as how sanctuary policies vary among jurisdictions, the impact on local policing, potential reprisals against sanctuary cities including the loss of federal funding, the constitutionality of voluntary or obligated cooperation with federal immigration authorities and whether sanctuary cities ultimately create safer and more prosperous communities.

Watch the program

The First 100 Days: Immigration at a Crossroads, Lives in the Balance

February 04, 2017
Miami, Florida

Watch the video

Speakers include:

  • Mary Meg McCarthy, Chair, Commission on Immigration (Moderator)
  • Hon. Dana Leigh Marks, President, National Association of Immigration Judges
  • Esther Olavarría, Former Senior Counselor to Secretary Jeh Johnson, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Wendy Wayne, Director, Immigration Impact Unit, Committee for Public Counsel Services

Watch whole program

Statement of ABA President Hilarie Bass Re: Mandatory case completion quotas for immigration judges

The American Bar Association strongly disagrees with any attempt to establish mandatory case completion quotas for immigration judges.

Statement of ABA President Hilarie Bass Re: The end of the DACA program

In light of the announcement that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be ended in six months, the American Bar Association urges Congress to act quickly to pass legislation that provides a fair, orderly and safe way ahead for the young people affected by this change.

Statement of ABA President re: President’s Revised Executive Order

The American Bar Association has concerns about the president’s revised executive order titled, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”

Linda A. Klein on independence of the judiciary, the rule of law and immigration

American Bar Association President Linda A. Klein Monday called personal attacks on judges “attacks on our Constitution” and warned that it is vital that the judiciary remains independent and free from political pressure.
Full speech: Video / Transcript

ImmigrationJustice.US Portal

ABA President Linda Klein has announced the launch of a portal to harness the energy of the legal profession and coordinate the efforts of volunteer lawyers helping immigrants in response to President Trump’s Executive Orders altering our immigration system.

ABA urges President Trump to withdraw order restricting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries

The American Bar Association urged President Donald Trump today to withdraw the executive order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” which restricts immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, suspends all refugee admission for 120 days and indefinitely suspends the entry of Syrian refugees.

Statement of Linda A. Klein, ABA president, Recent executive orders on immigration

The American Bar Association is concerned by significant portions of the immigration-related executive orders issued on January 25 and 27, 2017, regarding border security, immigration enforcement and terrorism. Together, they make significant changes to our nation’s immigration policies and jeopardize fundamental principles of justice, due process and the rule of law. 

ABA urges Supreme Court to set ‘bright-line’ approach in immigration detention cases

The American Bar Association filed an amicus brief Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court urging the justices to require in immigration cases involving prolonged detention an individualized bond hearing within six months, and reject the U.S, Department of Justice’s approach that would require each individual detainee to challenge their detention by way of a habeas petition.

Statement of Paulette Brown, president, American Bar Association Re: Impact of Supreme Court deadlock in U.S. v Texas

The American Bar Association recognizes that as a result of this outcome, millions of undocumented immigrants will be forced to remain in the shadows, vulnerable to exploitation and separation from their U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children.

A Humanitarian Call to Action: Unaccompanied Children in Removal Proceedings Present a Critical Need for Legal Representation

Updated May 2016

Last year there was a dramatic increase in the number of adults, families and unaccompanied children from Central America crossing into Texas. The ABA is issuing this statement to provide background information and to address the current needs of all involved.

Letter from Paulette Brown, President, American Bar Association Re: Ankle Monitors

The ABA strongly objects to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) extensive use of electronic ankle monitors as a condition of release from detention for Central American parents arriving with their children at the U.S. border.

Immigrant Children Desperately Need Lawyers (Letter to the Editor: Re “Migrant Children, Voiceless in Court")

These two Letters to the Editor address access to counsel for unaccompanied immigrant children and appeared in the New York Times, one from ABA President Paulette Brown and the other from Commission Chair Mary Meg McCarthy and KIND Director Wendy Young.

The ABA Commission on Immigration conducts a border tour to the Rio Grande Valley with President-elect Robert Carlson (fifth from left) on November 2, 2017. The delegation of bar leaders and dedicated advocates is pictured above at a shelter for unaccompanied children.  

Save the Date!

2018 Conference on Contemporary Rule of Law Issues

When People Flee: Rule of Law and Forced Migration

April 17, 2018


The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs

1957 E. Street NW, Washington, DC

Sponsored by the ABA Rule of Law Initiative

Co-sponsored by the ABA Commission on Immigration


Upcoming Program:

Evaluating the Immigration Court System: Balancing Efficiency and Due Process

Friday, May 4th 2018


Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP

801 17th Street NW, Suite 600

Washington, DC 20006

Program Description: The primary mission of the U.S. immigration court system is to adjudicate immigration cases fairly, expeditiously and uniformly consistent with the nation’s immigration laws. Despite this crucial mission, the immigration court system has been plagued by underfunding and an extreme backlog for years, many calling it a system in “crisis.” In response, the Executive Office for Immigration Review recently established new case priorities and court performance measures meant to address the current backlog that is estimated at over 650,000 cases.  Cases will now be subject to time completion goals, including 60 days for detained removal cases and 365 days for non-detained removal cases.  At this session, our panelists will explore how to maintain and improve this vital system.



Immigrant Children at Risk

April 2017
Written by Meredith Linsky, Commission on Immigration Director 
Forward by ABA President Linda Klein

Access the article through the Georgia Bar Journal.

ABA will protect the rule of law

February 2017
Written by ABA President Linda Klein

Access the article through the Miami Herald.

Mary Meg McCarthy, Chair

The United States is a country of immigrants founded on principles of liberty and justice for all. Today, these essential principles are at risk. President Trump, during his first week in office, issued three immigration-related executive orders, drastically altering our nation’s immigration laws. These orders call for a wall along the southwest border, a massive expansion of detention, expanding administrative expedited removal procedures and vastly increasing enforcement authorities, costing billions of dollars to U.S. taxpayers. These unilateral policies jeopardize the rule of law and threaten our country’s role as an economic and moral leader.

For members of the Commission on Immigration:

Member Reimbursement Form

Please send the reimbursement form directly to Renee Lynn Minor.

ABA Business Conduct Standards

The Commission on Immigration is currently looking to fill positions at ProBAR. For these and other career opportunities at the American Bar Association, please visit the ABA Career Center.

The ABA Commission on Immigration is currently seeking talented law clerks and interns to assist in cutting-edge, individualized assistance to detainees held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

For more information, please click here.

Reforming the Immigration System
Reforming the Immigration System:  Proposals to Promote Independence, Fairness, Efficiency, and Professionalism in the Adjudication of Removal Cases

How to order:
Executive Summary
Full Report

Commission on Immigration hosts two panels on the current immigration crisis at Annual 2018


In the wake of President Trump’s June 20 Executive Order ending the separation of immigrant children from their parents at the border, lawyers are needed to represent parents and children. While the order is intended to stop the separation of families, it creates a new set of legal challenges for those affected. The ABA and its partners offer many opportunities for lawyers and other legal professionals to help.

Our Projects:

Children's Immigration Law Academy

The Children’s Immigration Law Academy (CILA), is an expert legal resource center created by the American Bar Association (ABA). CILA builds capacity for those working to advance the rights of children seeking protection through trainings, technical assistance, and collaboration.

CILA Website - more information

Immigration Justice Project (IJP)

The Immigration Justice Project (IJP) of San Diego seeks to promote due process and access to justice for indigent immigrants and asylum-seekers through the provision of high-quality pro bono legal services for individuals appearing before the San Diego immigration court and in subsequent appeals as needed.

Learn more: - Immigration Justice Project (IJP)

South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR)

The South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR) is a national effort to provide pro bono legal services to asylum seekers detained in South Texas by the United States government. The project recruits, trains and coordinates the activities of volunteer attorneys, law students and legal assistants.

Learn about ProBAR - more

Fight Notario Fraud (FNF)

Unscrupulous “notarios” or “immigration consultants” have become an increasingly serious problem in immigrant communities throughout the United States. The Commission is working to provide immigrant communities with information about this dangerous practice, and to support advocates who represent victims.

Learn more - Fight Notario Fraud

National Detention Standards

This initiative seeks to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention standards at facilities housing immigrants and asylum seekers.

Know Your Rights

To help ensure America's commitment to justice for all, the American Bar Association Commission on Immigration has produced an updated version of "Know Your Rights," an educational video for the more than 400,000 men and women held in immigration detention facilities across the country each year.

Learn more - here

Featured Resource

Featured Resource

On Family Separation and Detention

Commission on Immigration Director, Meredith Linsky, has published an updated backgrounder on the separation of families and prosecution of migrants at the Southwest border.

Backgrounder - here

Donate to the Commission on Immigration

The Commission on Immigration appreciates your donations that will help us continue our work ensuring due process rights for the immigrant community. When you give to the Fund for Justice and Education, you can designate the Commission as your preferred recipient group. We thank you in advance for your generosity!

Donate - Here

About the Commission on Immigration

Among our greatest concerns are the erosion of due process safeguards, the growing reliance on detention, and the lack of access to legal information and counsel for individuals in immigration proceedings, including vulnerable groups such as unaccompanied immigrant children and mentally disabled individuals.