Immigrant Justice

Defending the rights and privileges of all immigrants, especially those who are denied a voice.

All people deserve to be treated fairly and to live a life free of unjust targeting and fear. That’s why diverse multiracial movements have united to raise the voices of immigrant families. The struggle for immigrant justice should not – and cannot – be separate from the broader struggle for racial justice. The injustice that immigrants’ face is part and parcel of much larger challenges that threaten us all.

Advancement Project’s Immigrant Justice Project conducts legal and policy research to support the strategy of local grassroots groups, helps build bridges between immigrant communities and other communities of color, and provides communications support to change the public discourse around immigrants and immigration. 

Immigration is a racial justice issue.

  • For the past 20 years, the great majority of immigrants have been people of color. According to 2010 Census data, less than 2 percent of unauthorized immigrants come from Europe or Canada, while 87 percent come from Latin America, 3 percent from Africa and 7 percent from Asia.
  • As the demographics of our nation shift, state legislatures have enacted a number of inhumane restrictions on immigrants’ rights, making it nearly impossible for this rising generation to gain a fair pathway for citizenship.
  • Many millions of families have been forced to live in the shadows, under fear of arrest or deportation. Mothers have been separated from their sons and daughters, fathers from the families they are committed to protect. Our nation’s reckless deportation policies feed the nation’s prison industrial complex, criminalizing adults and young children alike.
  • Despite the Administration’s attempt to implement executive action to assist families living in fear of deportation,11 million people of color still live in the shadows as they were denied documentation. Many still remain vulnerable to profiling and deportation.
  • In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, businesses try to pit one group of workers against another. Immigrants are exploited, often forced to work long hours under dangerous working conditions, for little or no pay.
  • It’s a moral issue when people who are presumed to be from other countries are racially profiled, especially in states like Alabama, Georgia and Arizona, which have passed laws that require police and other state officials to determine immigration status if there is “reasonable suspicion” about their citizenship. This amounts to racial profiling, and it tears apart families.

The immigrant experience in the U.S. is shaped not just by the federal government and immigration process, but by an immigrant’s experience with their local government – including the police force. In many cities and towns across the nation, police use racial profiling to criminalize communities of color, including immigrants without status. Some states and local communities condone such behavior and pass restrictive state laws. This over-criminalization has contributed to the nation’s mass incarceration crisis, which includes the incarceration of immigrants in both local jails and federal immigration custody. Today throughout the country, aspiring citizens are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse at the workplace, while living in constant fear of police targeting and deportation. This shakes the very foundation of America’s moral values, as a nation built on the values of freedom and justice.

Advancement Project’s model of strengthening local and community-based efforts is critical in the fight to ensure a more just democracy for all people. We aim to tackle the urgent issues surrounding immigration in this country – including mass incarceration – by partnering with grassroots organizations that raise up the voices of aspiring citizens, foster civic participation and build power within their communities.