National Immigration Law Center

aka NILC   |   Los Angeles, CA   |


Established in 1979, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is the leading national legal advocacy organization in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights and opportunities of the most vulnerable immigrants and their loved ones. Believing that everyone living in the U.S. should have equal access to justice, resources, and economic opportunities that allow them to achieve their full human potential, NILC advances its mission through a racial, economic, and gender justice and equity lens, and works to challenge laws and policies that contribute to systemic inequities.

Ruling year info



Kica Matos

Main address

3450 Wilshire Blvd., Box #108 – 62

Los Angeles, CA 90010 USA

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NTEE code info

Civil Rights, Advocacy for Specific Groups (R20)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (W01)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Since 2017, hundreds of immigration-related policies were rolled out that have severely threatened immigrants’ health, well-being, safety, and dignity. Immigrants and refugees were targeted through policies that separated children from their parents at the border, dismantled the U.S. asylum and refugee systems, and severely restricted the ability of immigrations to obtain work authorization, permanent residency, and citizenship. These sweeping and pervasive changes, which created a harsher immigration enforcement environment and were designed to change the demographic makeup of the country, will be difficult to unravel. The 2020 election results provide new openings. NILC is poised to seize new opportunities to advance humane and inclusive policies—at the federal, state, and local levels—that can eliminate barriers to equity, opportunity, and belonging for everyone, regardless of where they were born, and mobilize broad support for a more progressive and equitable future.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Advance Federal Policy Changes

We aim to undo the most harmful policies enacted over the last four years and in prior administrations that have fundamentally ravaged the lives of low-income immigrants. This will include our ongoing efforts to advocate for repeal of the Muslim and refugee bans, and legally challenge arbitrary and capricious efforts to deny people from accessing ban waivers that would allow them to reunite with their families. We will continue to lead efforts with partners to reverse and/or block restrictive public charge rules that serve as a de facto and racialized “wealth test” making it harder for lower-income immigrants of color to build stable lives in their adopted home country. We will advocate for winding down the harsh immigration enforcement measures enacted by the Trump administration, including promoting a revisioning of the Department of Homeland Security and a halt to egregious worksite enforcement tactics. We will work to dramatically enhance privacy protections for immigrants seeking critical safety net and economic support services. Our legal advocacy efforts will involve, for example: ensuring due process protections for detainees are upheld as part of enforcing our Orantes injunction, continuing to block attempts to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program; challenging proposed, massive fee increases that are designed to severely limit access to immigration relief; preparing to challenge a proposed rule to deny housing subsidies to mixed status families; and playing a strategic role in an amicus strategy to help challenge the Migrant Protection Protocols (“Remain in Mexico”) program. We will also work to advance inclusive, pro-immigrant policy solutions to create a viable path to legal status that is as expansive as possible and does not result in dangerous enforcement trade-offs, and increase immigrants’ access to fundamental safety net and economic support programs, educational opportunities, COVID- and other disaster-related relief, and health care, regardless of status.

Population(s) Served
Immigrants and migrants

Through our Winning in the States (WITS) initiative, we are focused on charting a more inclusive path forward to advance policies that welcome, defend, and empower immigrant community members. This involves providing intensive legal, policy, and communications support to help drive pro-immigrant campaigns on ripe policy initiatives in communities where there is opportunity for success (currently in Colorado, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, and Wisconsin). We also develop and share model pro-immigrant policies, analyses, and strategy/messaging tools with a broader range of advocates in states across the country to fuel momentum for other pro-migrant policy campaigns and strengthen the network of organizations engaging in state-based change. We coordinate with state partners across the country on legal advocacy/litigation, and policy strategies to defend immigrant workers' rights in the workplace, challenge local law enforcement entanglement in federal immigration enforcement, expand and protect “safe spaces,” and increase immigrants’ access to drivers’ licenses, healthcare, and economic supports. We also employ communications and mobilization strategies to amplify victories we achieve in states and localities to try to shift the national dialogue and showcase the power and promise of pro-immigrant policy approaches and underscore that supporting immigrants and immigrant issues is a winning policy strategy. With a federal administration that may not be as focused on cracking down on immigrant communities, over the next year we anticipate that we may see a reinvigorated anti-immigrant agenda at the state/local level, much like the environment we faced under the Obama administration. In the event that anti-immigrant policy proposals begin to emerge at the state and local level, we will again prioritize litigation strategies to block harmful and dangerous measures that jeopardize the health and well-being of immigrant families and communities.

Population(s) Served
Immigrants and migrants

A core focus of our work over the coming year will be to continue building our capacity to dismantle dominant narratives that portray immigrants as takers, criminals, and national security threats. Building on the foundational IMVP work we co-led, the #ImmigrantsAreEssential initiative we are currently co-leading, and other narrative change efforts we have engaged in over the years, we aim to help create a movement-wide narrative strategy that shifts public discourse toward increased recognition of immigrants as playing an integral role in shaping the America we are becoming. Our goal is to underscore that immigrants are not a problem to be dealt (or not dealt) with, but a valued constituency critical to the future health and vitality of the country.

Population(s) Served
Immigrants and migrants

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

NILC’s long-term goal is to advance our vision of a U.S. society in which all people—regardless of their race, gender, immigration or economic status—have equal access to justice, healthcare, education, government resources, and economic opportunities that enable them to achieve their full human potential. To advance this vision, NILC’s program work is focused on minimizing structural barriers to economic security that low-income immigrant families face on a daily basis and expanding low-income immigrants’ access to services and opportunities that will help them participate actively in our democracy and contribute even more fully to our country’s economy and society.

With a people-centered (rather than policy-focused) orientation, the strategic framework guiding NILC’s work is focused on advancing transformational social change. The organization uses three, interconnected strategies to advance its mission: legal and policy advocacy to advance progressive, systemic policy solutions; movement-building to help build a healthier and more powerful immigrant justice movement; and narrative and culture change to shift public debate toward the notion that — no matter where a person is born or how much money they have — everyone has an equitable stake in shaping the country's future.

NILC is a prominent leader in the immigrant justice movement, using its unparalleled authority on laws and public policy to ensure low-income immigrants across the country are treated with dignity and have the freedom to thrive. Over the last four decades, NILC has played a central role in shaping progressive policies, initiating creative litigation strategies that expand opportunities for immigrant families with low-incomes, and shaping groundbreaking research on messages that give advocates, policymakers, and other key spokespeople the tools they need to speak persuasively about the important and positive role that low-income immigrants play in U.S. society. NILC also roots its work in core values of partnership and shared leadership with directly affected communities. The organization is widely respected as a trustworthy collaborative partner skilled at shared leadership. NILC staff have been committed to coalition-building and collaboration throughout the organization’s history and believe strongly in lending legal and policy expertise to support organizing campaigns that build power locally. Over the years, NILC has also played a critical role in supporting emerging leaders and empowering them to build sustainable organizations.

· NILC continues to support Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients and their families as they struggle through the turbulent results of the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA. This includes co-counseling one of the core legal cases challenging the termination of DACA (Batalla Vidal v. Nielsen). After a tumultuous period of court developments, leading all the way up to the Supreme Court, in early December 2020, a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to restore the DACA program to its 2012 original form, which reopens DACA to first-time applicants, allows DACA recipients to stay and work in the country for two years before needing to reapply, and makes travel on advance parole more widely available to these young immigrants as well.

· Since 2017, NILC has been co-leading the national Protecting Immigrant Families campaign to fight back against efforts to strip immigrants’ access to critical healthcare, safety net, and economic security programs. One of the primary issues the PIF campaign has focused on is the Department of Homeland Security “public charge” rule, a wealth test designed to drastically restrict immigrants’ ability to establish permanent residency or get on a path to citizenship if they use safety-net programs. NILC is co-counseling litigation challenging this rule and has worked closely with PIF campaign partners to address the widespread chilling effect it has caused, which ramped up after it was allowed by courts to go into effect in February 2020. In early December 2020, a federal appeals court issued a decision that upheld previous preliminary injunctions blocking the rule’s implementation. Apart from litigation, NILC has also educated PIF partners and policymakers on the connection between public charge and COVID-19 and monitored other public charge-related administrative policy changes that threaten immigrants’ access to public housing assistance, food stamps, and other income supports.

· Created in 2018, NILC’s Winning in the States initiative is designed to advance pro-immigrant policies at the state and local level and amplify those victories to fuel momentum for other such policy solutions across the country. In 2020, NILC provided intensive support to bolster WITS partner advocacy efforts to expand immigrants’ access to driver’s licenses, which resulted in key policy victories. NILC also worked with WITS partners to promote “safe spaces” in schools and courthouses, limits on law enforcement entanglement with federal immigration officials, and other pro-migrant state and local measures. NILC recently produced a report, “Shared Crisis, Shared Solutions: State and Local Advocacy for an Immigrant-Inclusive Response to the COVID-19 Crisis,” showcasing examples of innovative economic support, health access, and workplace protection policy initiatives.


National Immigration Law Center

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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National Immigration Law Center

Board of directors
as of 05/01/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Angela Banks

Professor of Law, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Arizona State University

Term: 2021 -

Ghazal Tajmiri

Blank Rome LLP

Robert Pauw

Gibbs Houston Pauw

Alexandra Suh

Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance

Kevin M. Cathcart

Angela M. Banks

Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University

Omolara Thomas Uwemedimo

Strong Children Wellness

Rose Cuison-Villazor, Esq.

Rutgers Law School

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 5/1/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation


Equity strategies

Last updated: 12/17/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.