What We Do

Established in 1979, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is one of the leading organizations in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of immigrants with low income.

At NILC, we believe that all people who live in the U.S. should have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Over the years, we’ve been at the forefront of many of the country’s greatest challenges when it comes to immigration issues, and we play a major leadership role in addressing the real-life impact of policies that affect the ability of low-income immigrants to prosper and thrive.

We use a core set of integrated strategies to advance our mission:

Impact Litigation

NILC engages in lawsuits that defend the fundamental and constitutional rights of all Americans, including low-income immigrants and their families, usually in coordination with other local and national civil rights organizations. Our legal victories have secured vital due process rights for detained Salvadorans, challenged government regulations that would have resulted in millions of workers losing their jobs, and stopped unconstitutional state attempts to regulate immigration law that would have led to racial profiling.

Policy Analysis & Advocacy

As experts in the complex interplay between immigration law and public and private economic support programs, access to education, workers’ rights, and other issues affecting low-income immigrant communities, NILC educates decision-makers on the impact their policy goals may have on this overlooked population. NILC fact sheets and briefing papers have long been used by policymakers interested in ensuring the future prosperity of their constituents. And our analyses have also helped inform innovative policy solutions to address immigrants’ access to health care, workers’ rights, immigration enforcement reforms, and legal status for immigrant youth.

Strategic Communications

NILC plays an increasingly important role in shaping effective messaging and communications strategies on immigration issues. We have led groundbreaking research on messages to promote bold advocacy goals and give advocates, policymakers, and other key spokespeople the tools they need to speak persuasively about the important and positive role that low-income immigrants play in our society. Our communications efforts are deliberately integrated with our efforts to advance legal and policy victories, while also focused on shaping the public narrative on immigration issues for longer-lasting social change.

Other Strategies

We also conduct trainings, publish educational materials, and provide legal counsel and strategic advice to support and strengthen other groups’ advocacy work.

Timeline Prepared for Our 30th Anniversary