Immigrant Defenders Law Center (ImmDef) was founded by a dedicated group of advocates and activists interested in creating an organization on the vanguard of the movement for a public defender system for immigrants facing deportation. Our founders, many of whom previously worked together providing deportation defense at another non-profit organization, took a leap of faith in the summer of 2015 and struck out on their own.
With the generous financial support of Bishop Jon Bruno and the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, ImmDef established itself quickly as one of the premier immigrant rights organizations in Los Angeles. Our organization would never have come to fruition if so many others in the immigrant rights community had not stepped up to help us along the way. ImmDef is truly a product of the larger immigrant rights movement.
Since its beginning in 2015, ImmDef has moved from working out of its founders' living rooms and into the beautiful MALDEF building in Downtown Los Angeles, and it has grown from a handful of attorneys to a team of 40 staffers.
In less than a year, ImmDef became one of the largest nonprofit providers of deportation defense in California. We focus on helping immigrants who are in some of the most legally complicated
situations, including unaccompanied children and youth who arrived alone to the U.S. and now face deportation, adults with mental health challenges, and legal permanent residents facing deportation due to unlawful conviction.
We believe competent representation in immigration court is a right and not a privilege, and we work to provide it to as many immigrants as possible.
We also work to empower our child clients with knowledge about the system in which they are entangled through our Detained Youth Empowerment Project, which provides “Know Your Rights” classes and legal screenings for all children detained in shelters in the greater Los Angeles area.
Additionally, our social services case managers work one-on-one with our clients to refer them to resources that will help support them as they fight their cases, including mental health counseling, medical insurance, drivers' licenses, and housing.
Finally, we engage in advocacy with lawmakers at the local, state and federal level in a variety of initiatives, always with a view to furthering universal representation and establishing a public-defender system for immigrants. We aim to transform the U.S. immigration system so that it is a true reflection of the American values of fairness and justice for all.