Immigration program

Legal Services

Centro Legal’s immigration practice is focused on serving the needs of our most vulnerable community members, including families living in poverty, long residing undocumented immigrants and families, youth, victims of violent crimes, asylum seekers, and detained individuals in removal proceedings. We represent clients in detained and non-detained removal defense, asylum applications, family-based visa petitions, U visas for victims of violent crimes, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), adjustment of status, and naturalization. Our removal defense practice specializes in cases that are urgent and often involve novel legal issues. Centro Legal’s immigration team has expertise in complex detained cases, including individuals deemed mentally incompetent by the court and appointed counsel.

Centro Legal also runs a robust pro bono immigration program. We train and provide technical and substantive assistance for pro bono attorneys representing clients seeking U visa relief, asylum before the immigration courts and asylum office, and bond for release from immigration detention. Pro bono attorneys also participate in our clinics and workshops under Centro Legal’s supervision and mentorship.

Policy Advocacy

Centro Legal’s strong legal rights and direct representation immigration program places us in a unique position to advocate for systemic change to the broken immigration system and to promote the rights of individuals on a local, regional, and national scale. In addition to providing legal assistance to low-income immigrants, Centro Legal’s immigration team works with local and national partner groups to advocate and litigate for reform for individuals in immigration detention.

To promote systematic change on a broader scale, Centro engages in and supports a wide array of immigrants’ rights advocacy efforts. We have participated in litigation on immigration detention conditions, provided data and legal support for a City of Oakland lawsuit against a “notario” business that defrauded immigrants, and are currently engaged in advocacy to increase access to counsel for immigrant detainees. Centro Legal attorneys also participate in quarterly meetings on how to improve conditions at the various immigration detention centers throughout California.

Centro Legal is an active member of the Alameda County United in Defense of Immigrant Rights Coalition (ACUDIR), which advocates for fair and just treatment of non-citizens. In recent years, Centro Legal has been at the forefront of efforts to curtail unlawful collaboration between local law enforcement agencies and federal immigration authorities in order to prevent unjust deportations and keep immigrant families together.