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Immigration Impact Lab

Every day, the immigration system fails children and adults who are detained.

Our Immigration Impact Lab (“The Lab”) responds to these failings, strategically appealing cases, developing impact litigation, and launching advocacy efforts that have the potential to transform the system and establish new legal precedents for immigrants nationwide.

Our approach

How we build a better future one case at a time.

  • Step 1: Initial litigation

    Our attorneys fight for each individual at the immigration court level and, when possible, in the federal district courts.

  • Step 2: Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)

    After identifying errors made in a client’s immigration case, our attorneys brings the case to the BIA for review.

  • Step 3: Federal Courts of Appeals

    We appeal errors made by the BIA to the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. Sometimes the circuit court sends the case back to the BIA to address issues, and sometimes it makes a final decision in the case. Either type of case can create new law that impacts all other immigrants with that same issue in their case going forward in that particular circuit and beyond.

  • Step 4: National impact

    The new legal precedent created in our cases affects the lives of immigrants throughout the circuit court and beyond. Published court decisions influence a range of other legal bodies nationwide—including district and circuit court rulings, immigration judge decisions in immigration courts across the country, and the Supreme Court.

Major wins

Building a more welcoming world, one case at a time.

Our cases reach across the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, beyond. We’ve litigated, co-counseled, mentored, and provided amicus curiae support in a range of matters that have changed the system for the better.

  • 01

    Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coal v. Trump

    471 F. Supp. 3d 25 (D.D.C. 2020) (co-counsel with Hogan Lovells, RAICES, and Human Rights First)

    This case knocked down one of the Trump Administration’s primary national asylum bans, which would have banned asylum for anyone who crossed through a third country on the way to the U.S. and did not first seek asylum there.

  • 02

    Immigration Court Records Access

    The Lab’s advocacy efforts before the U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) led to a new nationwide policy that expanded access to records for immigrants nationwide outside of the FOIA process.

  • 03

    Dubon Miranda v. Barr

    463 F. Supp. 3d 632 (D. Md. 2020) (co-counseled with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, the ACLU of Maryland, and Sanford Heisler Sharp)

    Until overturned on appeal, this case helped hundreds of Marylanders leave immigration detention to reunite with their families by flipping the burden of proof in bond hearings on the government and requiring immigration judges to consider individuals’ ability to pay bonds and alternatives to detention.

  • 04

    Rivas v. Oddo

    3:22-cv-223 (W.D. Pa. June 27, 2023)

    As the first counseled immigration habeas petition decision to win in the Western District of Pennsylvania, this case paved the way for immigrants to challenge unlawful detention in Pennsylvania, where the largest immigration detention center in the Northeast is now located.

  • 05

    Quintero v. Garland

    998 F.3d 612 (4th Cir. 2021)

    This case established the duty of immigration judges to develop the record when an immigrant lacks an attorney—a landmark decision for the rights of pro se immigrants unrepresented by counsel, which includes the majority of individuals who ICE holds in immigration detention.

Strategic advocacy

Pushing for change outside of the courtroom.

In addition to our legal work, The Lab also strives to educate members of Congress, advocate for immigration agencies to change their policies, and shape public opinion in support of meaningful policy change that benefits current and future immigrants to the United States.

Refer a case

Want us to take a case on your client’s behalf?

Contact us at to refer a BIA appeal, circuit petition for review, or habeas case to The Lab. Please note that our focus is on issues that impact people at risk of detention and deportation. We can only take a limited number of cases, and we don’t accept referrals for immigration court cases or United States Citizenship and Immigration Services matters.

Make a referral

Close up image of a judges gavel

Have questions?

Our team is here to help.

If you have questions about our Immigration Impact Lab, please contact Adina Appelbaum, Program Director, at We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Ask about The Lab

More programs

Explore more of our nationally recognized work to see how we’re creating a more just immigration system and ensuring people who are detained have access to due process and expert legal representation.

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