Fellowship Opening at ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project – NY or SF



American Civil Liberties Union Foundation

Immigrants’ Rights Project, NY & CA

For more than 92 years, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation (ACLU), has been at the forefront of virtually every major battle for civil liberties and equal justice in this country. Principled and nonpartisan, the ACLU has offices in all 50 states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico, and brings together the country’s largest team of public interest lawyers, lobbyists, communication strategists, and members and activists in the advancement of equality, fairness, and freedom, especially for the most vulnerable in our society.

The Immigrants’ Rights Project (IRP) of the ACLU’s National office is seeking applicants for an IRP Detention Fellow, to start immediately. The position will be based in either New York or San Francisco for a term of one year.


The IRP conducts the largest litigation program in the country dedicated to enforcing and defending the constitutional and civil rights of immigrants and to combating public and private discrimination against non-citizens.  The IRP also supports and coordinates the immigrants’ rights work of the ACLU’s 53 affiliates around the country.  Current areas of litigation and advocacy include state and local anti-immigrant laws and practices; immigration enforcement practices and racial profiling; immigration detention; habeas corpus and access to the courts; discriminatory language and education policies; and due process in immigration removal proceedings.  The IRP is part of the ACLU’s Center for Equality, which works to uphold the federal constitution’s promise that all Americans will receive equal protection of the law. The Center also includes the ACLU’s Racial Justice, Voting and Disability work.

The Project’s top priorities include addressing the growing problem of mass immigration incarceration.  In recent years, the immigration system has become one of arbitrary mass detention of immigrants who are in removal proceedings, without regard for due process or cost-effectiveness, resulting in the detention of almost 430,000 immigrants (an all-time high) in FY 2011. The IRP has been the leading organization engaged in ensuring fundamental procedural protections and reducing the federal government’s wasteful and inhumane over-reliance on immigration incarceration – through a combination of strategic litigation and advocacy.

The IRP Detention Fellow will participate in litigation and advocacy to challenge the expansion of unconstitutional detention practices, and to help establish a right to appointed counsel for immigration detainees.  The Fellow will work with IRP attorneys on existing complex litigation challenges to detention and counsel practices and participate in the development and filing of new litigation. In addition, the Fellow will be instrumental in monitoring other cases being litigated in the federal courts.  The Fellow will also participate in our administrative advocacy for systemic nationwide reforms to the immigration detention system.


  • Conduct legal and factual research and analysis for pending and potential litigation.
  • Draft legal memoranda, pleadings, affidavits, motions, and briefs.
  • Participate in development of facts including interviews of potential clients in detention facilities.
  • Provide technical assistance to the nationwide immigration bar and to ACLU affiliates.
  • Engage in administrative advocacy.
  • Serve as a resource for ACLU legislative and policy work.


  • J.D. degree is required.
  • A federal judicial clerkship is preferred.  At least two years of litigation experience preferred.
  • Experience with legal issues involving immigration detention and deportation is preferred.
  • A demonstrated commitment to public interest law.
  • Excellent research, writing, and verbal communication skills.
  • A demonstrated ability to conduct complex legal analysis and fact-finding.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and a proven ability to work independently, as well as within a team.
  • The initiative to see projects through to completion and to be a self-starter.
  • Commitment to the mission and goals of the ACLU.


The ACLU offers a generous and comprehensive compensation and benefits package, commensurate with experience and within parameters of the ACLU compensation scale.


Please send a letter of interest, resume, transcript, contact information for two legal references, and a legal writing sample via e-mail to hrjobsIRP@aclu.org. You must reference [IRP-26 Detention Fellowship/ACLU-W] in the subject line. Please indicate your preference for a New York or San Francisco placement.  Please note that this is not the general ACLU applicant email address.  This email address is specific to Immigrants’ Rights Project postings. In order to ensure that your application is received, please make certain it is sent to the correct e-mail address. You can expect to receive an automatic response that acknowledges the submission of application materials.

Alternatively, applications can be mailed to:

American Civil Liberties Union Foundation

[Attn: IRP-26 Detention Fellowship/ACLU-W]

125 Broad Street, 18th Floor

New York, NY 10004


Please indicate in your cover letter where you learned of this career opportunity.

Applicants are encouraged to send materials as soon as possible. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

This job description provides a general but not comprehensive list of the essential responsibilities and qualifications required. It does not represent a contract of employment. The ACLU reserves the right to change the job description and/or posting at any time without advance notice.

The ACLU is an equal opportunity employer.  We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture.  The ACLU encourages applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, and veteran status. We encourage applicants with disabilities who may need accommodations in the application process to contact: Recruitment@aclu.org.

 Correspondence sent to the Recruitment@aclu.org address that is not related to accommodations will not be reviewed.  Applicants should follow the instructions above regarding how to apply. 


The ACLU comprises two separate corporate entities, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Foundation. Both the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Foundation are national organizations with the same overall mission, and share office space and employees. The ACLU has two separate corporate entities in order to do a broad range of work to protect civil liberties. This job posting refers collectively to the two organizations under the name “ACLU.”