American Immigration Lawyers Association

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American Immigration Lawyers Association
American Immigration Lawyers Association Logo.png
Official AILA Logo
Formation October 14, 1946
Type Professional Bar Association
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
  • United States
13,000 members
Executive Director
Crystal Williams

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), founded on October 14, 1946, is a voluntary bar association of over 13,000 attorneys and law professors who practice and teach immigration law.[1] AILA member attorneys represent U.S. families seeking permanent residence for close family members, as well as U.S. businesses seeking talent from the global marketplace. AILA members also represent foreign students, entertainers, athletes, and asylum seekers, often on a pro bono basis. AILA is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that provides continuing legal education, information, professional services, and expertise through its 38 chapters and over 50 national committees. Its national headquarters are in Washington, D.C.

In 2011, Washingtonian Magazine named AILA one of the "50 Great Places to Work in Washington".[2]


American Immigration Lawyers Association offices at 1331 G Street, NW in Washington, D.C.

The association (originally called the Association of Immigration and Nationality Lawyers or AINL) was founded on October 14, 1946 by a group of 19 immigration lawyers and professionals in Manhattan, New York.[3] Twelve of the association founders had recently worked for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and saw an opportunity to utilize their professional standing “to elevate the standard and reputation of the practitioner appearing before the Immigration Service”[4] Josh Koenigsberg served as the first president of the association with Gaspare Cusumano as vice president, Anita Streep as secretary, and Daniel Caputi as treasurer.[5]

In 1982, the association established a national headquarters in Washington, D.C. and was renamed the American Immigration Lawyers Association.[5]

By 1985, the association had 1,800 members; a three-fold increase from 1975.[6] As of 2012, there are over 12,000 AILA members spread over 36 chapters in the United States and across the world.[1]


AILA's mission, as stated on its website, is to: promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.[7]

1. Increase member participation in advocacy before Congress, the Judiciary, the Federal Agencies, and the media, for immigration-related interests of our clients and society.

  • Educate the public about the ways in which U.S. immigration law and policy serves the national interest by reuniting American families, protecting refugees, & providing U.S. employers with the specialized skills they need to remain globally competitive.
  • Enhance respect for immigration law, and professional recognition of immigration lawyers, by government, the bar, and society.
  • Support AIC’s Legal Action Center and educational programming.

2. Increase the level of knowledge and professionalism, and foster the professional responsibility, of our members.

  • Enhance the litigation capabilities of the membership as an important option to ensure the just administration of our immigration laws.
  • Assist members in effectively and competently pursuing their law practice and enhancing their professional satisfaction.
  • Advance the protection of the public by promoting consumer protection and authorized representation.
  • Promote and support delivery of competent, ethical, and lawful immigration services by lawyers, authorized accredited representatives, and pro bono programs.
  • Encourage and facilitate member participation in, and support for, pro bono services and programs.

2015-2016 National Officers[edit]

The following are the elected national officials for 2015-2016:

President Victor D. Nieblas Pradis
President-Elect William A. Stock
1st Vice President Annaluisa Padilla
2nd Vice President Anatasia Tonello
Treasurer Marketa Lindt
Secretary Jennifer Minear
Immediate Past President Leslie A. Holman
AILA Executive Director Vacant (Susan D. Quarles and Robert P. Deasy, Acting)

AILA National Departments[edit]

The following subsections highlight some of the various departments that make up AILA’s National staff in Washington, DC.


The Advocacy Department translates AILA's legislative priorities into action, through a mix of affirmative (pressing for positive reforms on business, family, and due process issues) and defensive (seeking to defeat harsh or unwise proposals) efforts.


The AILA Membership Department is responsible for all association membership issues and responding to member inquiries. Department staff members also serve as the primary link between AILA’s chapter leadership and the National Office, providing resources to chapter officers on matters of administration, tax issues and online services. Additionally, the department provides assistance to AILA members and the general public regarding membership benefits and services.


The AILA Communications Department is charged with promoting the mission of the association and expertise of the 12,000 member attorneys to the general public. The department staff works strategically to identify and prepare media spokespeople on key immigration issues of national interest. Staff also develops effective outreach and materials for various media markets, assist members in reaching out to local media, and provide members with substantive and rhetorical tools for use in public presentations to multiple audiences and constituencies.


The AILA Education department seeks to further AILA’s overall mission of advancing the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhancing the professional development of its members through the production of continuing legal education programs. The AILA Annual Conference, typically held in June, is the largest single gathering of immigration attorneys, experts and government agency representatives in the nation.[8] The event attracts nearly 3,000 attendees each year and features multiple tracks covering all immigration law sub-specialty practice areas including family-based immigration, employment-based immigration, due process/removal defense, asylum, enforcement and law practice success. The event also features a series of government “open forums” which permit Q&A with key representatives from the federal agencies that impact immigration law and policy. In addition to the Annual Conference, AILA Education presents up to 12 smaller conferences throughout the year, often focused on a specific topic or co-sponsored with one or more AILA chapters. In 2009, AILA began webcasting select in-person conferences to allow persons who are unable to attend due to financial or other commitments to participate remotely from the convenience of their home or office.

AILA Education also works closely with the member-based “distance learning” committee to produce an average of 5 audio and web seminars each month, plus a number of “late-breaking” seminars throughout the year. AILA seminars are 90 minutes in length and focus on discrete immigration issues. Seminar recordings are available for purchase in either CD or downloadable format. Monthly podcasts are also available as an exclusive benefit to members.[9]


AILA's Liaison Department provides direction and coordination to agency liaison, substantive law analysis, information gathering and dissemination. Staff of the Liaison Department work with liaison committees, executive committee and the board to set and achieve liaison goals; coordinate participation of AILA representatives to coalition organizations; work with government agencies to achieve AILA goals; respond to member questions; coordinate information gathering and dissemination; and, develop and manage InfoNET and other internet-based dissemination programs.


AILA's Marketing Department develops and oversees all the promotional efforts, social media outreach and market research activities for the association's publications, conferences, Career Center and a number of other program areas. Marketing is consulted for membership outreach and messaging- for renewals, recruitment and member services. All advertising, sponsorship and exhibit vendor inquiries, negotiations and contracts are handled by the Marketing staff, as well as overseeing the Annual Conference Exhibit Hall. The Marketing staff is responsible for the AILA Publications e-commerce store, as well as the fulfillment/customer service vendor.

The Marketing Department staff assists its sister organization - the American Immigration Council - with marketing outreach efforts.


AILA Publications is the publishing arm of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and is the leading publisher of information and analysis serving the practicing immigration lawyer and those in need of immigration law information. AILA Publications is the publisher of many notable titles—among them are Kurzban's Immigration Law Sourcebook, Immigration Consequences of Criminal Activity, AILA's Asylum Primer, Litigating Immigration Cases in Federal Court, Representing Clients in Immigration Court, and Essentials of Immigration Law.[10]


  1. ^ a b "About AILA". American Immigration Lawyers Association. Archived from the original on 2012-03-06. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  2. ^ "AILA Awards". Washingtonian Magazine. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  3. ^ "Remembering Edward L. Dubroff". American Immigration Law Foundation. Archived from the original on 2009-10-08. Retrieved 2012-03-09. 
  4. ^ Levin, Leslie (2010). “Specialty Bars as a Site of Professionalism: The Immigration Bar Example. University of St. Thomas Law Journal, Vol. 8(2), p. 201.
  5. ^ a b (2006) “About AILA: Sixty Years of Service, Sixty Years of Excellence”. Immigration Law Today Vol. 25(5), p.8.
  6. ^ Serrill, Michael S. (1985-07-08). "A Booming But Tainted Specialty". TIME Magazine. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  7. ^ "Mission & Goals". American Immigration Lawyers Association. Archived from the original on 2012-03-06. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  8. ^ "2006 AILA Annual Conference". State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Retrieved 2012-03-09. 
  9. ^ "Member Benefits". American Immigration Lawyers Association. Archived from the original on 2012-03-06. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  10. ^ "AILA Publications". American Immigration Lawyers Association. Retrieved 2012-03-09.