Immigrants’ Rights Attorney

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU-PA) seeks a full-time immigrants’ rights attorney to join its legal department. The ACLU-PA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest organization, dedicated to defending and enhancing personal freedoms protected by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights through litigation, legislative advocacy, and community education. It is a fast-paced environment that addresses headline-making issues with powerful personal stories and dynamic, precedent-setting solutions. The ACLU-PA has three offices, ten volunteer chapters, over 40,000 members and donors, more than 30 full-time employees, and a $5.3 million operating budget

The immigrants’ rights attorney will work to 1) identify systemic and egregious government abuses of power violating immigrants’ rights, with an emphasis on detention and removal matters, which the ACLU-PA would challenge through litigation or advocacy; 2) work with other ACLU lawyers and volunteer attorneys to file and litigate cases  to advance immigrants’ rights; 3) coordinate with and provide legal support to immigrants’ rights advocates across the state; and 4) and help to promote immigrant-friendly local, county and state policies and legislation and to defeat hostile efforts.

The immigrants’ rights attorney, who will focus primarily on detention and removal litigation, works under the legal director’s supervision and in close collaboration with other lawyers, as well as staff from the legislative, advocacy and communications departments. The preferred work location for the immigrants’ rights attorney position is in the ACLU-PA’s Philadelphia office, but consideration will be given to placement in the Pittsburgh office.


•  Help the affiliate to set and adjust strategic priorities for its immigrants’ rights work, informed by the needs and concerns of impacted communities in Pennsylvania.

• Work strategically with legal department lawyers and cooperating private attorneys in teams to develop impact litigation and litigate immigrants’ rights issues in immigration court, the federal courts, and state courts.

• Grow and deepen relationships with immigrants’ rights community partners, coalitions, and stakeholders.

• Provide technical support and strategic leadership to immigrants’ rights community groups, advocates, and organizers in the region.

• Work with and facilitate broad-based coalition efforts in Pennsylvania to advance immigrant-friendly legislative and policy changes and push back against anti-immigrant legislative and policy changes.   

• Serve as an immigrants’ rights legal and policy expert within the state and draft advocacy letters, legislation, regulatory comments, reports, policy briefs and coalition sign-on letters.

• Assist with state legislative advocacy through lobbying, legislative briefings, and testimony on immigrants’ rights issues.

• Devise and present engaging “know your rights” trainings and other public education immigrants’ rights presentations.

• Write and edit op-eds, blog posts, and social media content about immigrants’ rights.

• Recruit fellows and interns to work on immigrants’ rights and provide guidance to legal fellows and direct supervision to interns.


Candidates should have:

• Ideally, a J.D. and at least 3 years of litigation experience, but applications from attorneys with a range of experience will be considered.

• Substantial knowledge of the legal and regulatory framework governing humanitarian protections against removal and governing immigration detention and removal proceedings, ideally with a minimum of 1-3 years of experience with detention and removal litigation in immigration court and federal courts.  

• Knowledge of immigration law generally, and immigration-detention-and-removal law in particular.

• Excellent research, writing, analytic, interpersonal, communication, and time-management skills and attention to detail.

• Exhibits qualities of patience, emotional intelligence, and respect. Possesses a global mindset, including the ability to participate in, create, and sustain inclusive and engaging spaces for people of all races, ethnicities, genders, orientations, ages, beliefs, classes, and geographies.

• Flexibility to work occasional evenings and weekends, travel regularly to different parts of the state, and, at times, to other parts of the country.

Preferred Qualifications

• Between 1-5 years of detention and removal litigation experience in immigration and federal courts

•  Demonstrated experience with complex federal litigation and/or civil rights litigation.  

• Experience working in coalitions or involvement in policy and legislative advocacy a plus.

• Demonstrated knowledge and application of public speaking.

• Spanish language fluency preferred.

Compensation & Benefits

Salary range is $68,000 - $75,000 annually depending on experience and within the parameters of the ACLU-PA compensation scale. The position is funded for at least two years and may be extended.

Excellent benefits include generous vacation and sick leave; individual/family employer-provided health and dental insurance; life insurance and long-term disability; defined contribution plan with employer match; and 10 paid holidays. This position is full-time, salaried, and exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Application Procedure

E-mail a letter of interest and resume to Witold Walczak, legal director, to with a subject line of "Immigrants’ Rights Attorney." Application materials sent via postal mail or fax will not be accepted. No calls, please. Resumes will be accepted until the position is filled.

The ACLU-PA is an equal opportunity employer. We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The ACLU-PA encourages applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, and veteran status.

The ACLU-PA comprises two separate corporate entities, the American Civil Liberties Union (the “Union”) of Pennsylvania and the ACLU Foundation (the “Foundation”) of Pennsylvania. The Union is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation, and ACLU membership dues fund its lobbying work. Donations to the Union are not tax-deductible. The ACLU Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Foundation funds support litigation and public education efforts. Donations to the Foundation are tax-deductible. The immigrants’ rights attorney is an employee of the ACLU Foundation of Pennsylvania.

Both the ACLU of Pennsylvania and the ACLU Foundation of Pennsylvania have the same overall mission, and share office space, employees, and the same board of directors. The two entities are jointly known by the term “ACLU of Pennsylvania.”

ACLU-PA’s hiring process will comply with Philadelphia’s Fair Criminal Records Screening Standards (“Ban the Box”) ordinance.

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