IJC turns ten this year!
Imagine the faces of fear – a child alone in immigration court, a family threatened with deportation, an asylum seeker facing return to unsafe and violent conditions, and many long-term residents facing a relentless deportation machine. Ten years ago, amidst these cries for help because of a dearth of counsel in removal proceedings, Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC) was born.
It was a bold vision by a legal titan, the late Judge Robert A. Katzmann of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, training young lawyers and recent college graduates through highly competitive fellowships to provide quality legal services to low-income immigrants in New York City. Today, IJC has blossomed to become a national fellowship providing opportunities for young lawyers and advocates, hundreds with lived experience, to practice immigration law and give back to their communities.
As we celebrate this momentous anniversary, I am deeply grateful for our collective accomplishments. Imagine the laughter of reunited families, the dreams rekindled in children’s eyes, the weight lifted from resilient shoulders facing deportation – over 100,000 lives transformed by IJC’s talented Fellows who turn fear into hope one case at a time. Over 350 lawyers and advocates trained, 90 percent of cases won, capacity building at over 70 leading legal services providers, community-based organizations, and immigration law clinics in more than 20 states, and more than 250 alumni leading reform, shaping policies, educating future generations – that is the IJC legacy.
Over 100,000 lives transformed by IJC’s talented Fellows who turn fear into hope one case at a time.
Judge Katzmann’s dream continues to illuminate our path. He envisioned a world where every immigrant receives competent legal assistance, and his vision fuels every step IJC takes. Indeed, every day our Fellows, supported by foundations, individuals, and government, stand at the frontlines of an unjust and untenable system, fighting for dignity and respect for all immigrants, regardless of status. They are beacons of hope and testaments to the power of compassion and justice.
But our work is far from over. The need for legal representation has reached an unprecedented 3.2 million and only 30 percent of immigrants have representation. As the government hires more immigration judges, fast tracks cases and expedites removals, thousands of unrepresented children, families, and asylum seekers are at risk of removal simply because they lack counsel to help them navigate the complicated maze of removal proceedings.
Political winds may shift, immigration laws and policies may change, but our commitment remains unwavering. In the face of rising challenges, IJC will empower new generations of justice warriors, expand our reach to even more underserved communities, and advocate for systemic change that upholds the rights and dignity of all immigrants.
Together, we can be the wind beneath the wings of justice. Stand with us as we carry Judge Katzmann’s dream forward, ensuring every immigrant has access to competent representation and a chance to thrive in America. Join us, one life, one case, at a time, and help build a future where freedom and justice ring true for all.
CEO, Immigrant Justice Corps