Grantee Partner

National Immigration Law Center

A leader in defending the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their families

The National Immigration Law Center’s mission is grounded in the belief that everyone living in the U.S. should have equal access to justice, resources, and opportunities that enable them to achieve their full potential. Over the past four decades, NILC has led innovative litigation, policy, coalition building, and communications efforts at local, state, and federal levels to advance systemic policy solutions that make it possible for immigrants and their loved ones to sustain healthy and secure lives, build and exercise power, and become integral participants in our country’s democracy.

NILC has evolved from an issue-expert resource for legal aid lawyers and immigrants’ rights advocates to a movement-building leader, using its unparalleled authority on laws and public policy to ensure that low-income immigrants across the country can thrive. Recognizing that legal and policy advocacy alone may not be enough to make transformational societal change, NILC also focuses on helping to build a stronger, more inclusive immigrant justice movement and fostering alliances that will build the political power needed to make policy changes real and lasting. NILC also uses narrative and culture change strategies 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 and constructive role to play in shaping the country’s future.

In response to the administration’s policies to radically increase barriers to immigration for low-income immigrants, NILC co-launched the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign.

Since its inception in 2017, the campaign has grown into a formidable force of 450 health, nutrition, anti-poverty, child advocacy, immigrant justice, and other groups from more than 40 states focused on fighting back against the administration’s concerted efforts to redefine who is worthy of being considered “American” through its racially-motivated “public charge” wealth test and related policies. When the public charge rule was first proposed, the campaign successfully spearheaded efforts to secure comments from an unprecedented quarter-million people over a two-month period.

Through its Winning in the States initiative, NILC provides intensive strategy and technical assistance to organizational partners in a handful of states—currently Colorado, New Jersey, Oregon, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and New Mexico—to support their pro-immigrant campaigns. Over the last two years, this support has helped state advocates expand immigrants’ access to driver’s licenses, strengthen due process protections for immigrants, and limit local law enforcement’s entanglement with federal immigration operations. NILC also provides a wider range of advocates across the country with tools and resources to support their advocacy efforts through the WITS online resource hub, model policies, messaging and digital communications materials, and a monthly webinar series.

Unbound Philanthropy has supported NILC with General Operating Support since 2009, bringing our partnership with them to over a decade. Their work advances all of our strategy areas, in particular System.

At a time when immigrants and refugees are facing unrelenting attacks, it may seem like a luxury to step back and plan 20-25 years ahead. But it’s precisely because the stakes are so high that this diverse cohort has convened over the last year to engage in the Immigrant Movement Visioning Process. Through a series of learning sessions and retreats, we have honed our vision, deepened relationships, and made progress toward building a healthier ecosystem which will be essential to bringing about a transformative vision for all of the country in which we all belong.

Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director, NILC

The National Immigration Law Center is playing a critical role in promoting policy solutions that make it possible for immigrants to thrive, as well as engaging a broad set of stakeholders in crafting a visionary, people-centered, just, and humane overhaul of the country’s immigration systems.


Photos by Robin Aubry, courtsey of National Immigration Law Center