2021 Year-End Summary Report
It’s with our deepest gratitude that we thank our supporters for helping us to serve over 5,628 clients from 90 countries. Thank you for your trust in our work!
Argentina | Azerbaijan | The Bahamas | Bangladesh | Barbados | Belize | Bolivia | Botswana | Brazil | Cameroon | Canada | Cayman Islands | Chile | China | Colombia | Congo | the Democratic Republic of the Congo | Costa Rica | Cuba | Czechoslovakia (former) | Dominican Republic | Ecuador | Egypt | El Salvador | Eritrea | Ethiopia | France | Germany | Guadeloupe | Guatemala | Guernsey | Guyana | Haiti | Honduras | Hungary | India | Iran | Iraq | Israel | Italy | Jamaica | Japan | Jordan | Kazakhstan | Kenya | Lebanon | Liberia | Macedonia | Martinique | Mayotte | Mexico | Moldova | Morocco | Netherlands | Netherlands Antilles | Nicaragua | Nigeria | Pakistan | Panama | Paraguay | Peru | Philippines | Poland | Portugal | Romania | Russian Federation | Saint Lucia | Senegal | Sierra Leone | Slovak Republic | Somalia | South Africa | Spain | Sri Lanka | Sweden | the Syrian Arab Republic | Taiwan (Province of China) | Trinidad and Tobago | Tunisia | Turkey | Turks and Caicos Islands | Ukraine | the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland | Uruguay | USA | USSR (former) | Venezuela | Vietnam | Virgin Islands (British)
We celebrated 25 years of tireless commitment to fighting for immigrants’ rights.
Our Lucha Program represents immigrant survivors of human trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault and their children. Lucha’s work helps break the cycle of poverty, violence and exploitation by making a brighter future possible for survivors and their families.
In 2021, the Lucha Program represented 835 cases, securing 244 approvals, including visas, work permits, and permanent residency applications. Moreover, Lucha staff reviewed proposed legislation, including the US Citizenship Act of 2021 and its effects on immigrant survivors.
Fighting for Freedom
AI Justice’s Detention Program represents and advises individuals in immigration detention before the immigration court and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), educates the detained population on their rights, and serves as watchdog on immigration detention practices.
In 2021, we represented 316 individuals in immigration detention.
AI Justice has joined a collaboration of both local and national partners in a campaign to shut down the Glades County Detention Center. As part of this collaborative effort, we are engaged in ongoing research and investigating the funding structures of the jail and the meetings and actions taken by the county commission, all to target the county commission to end its contract with ICE.
We were part of the congressional working group of the campaign, engaging in efforts to reach out to members of Congress and advocate for an elimination of the temporary guaranteed minimum between Glades County and ICE.
In January 2021, there were around 14,000 people in immigration detention.
By December 2021, over 22,000 people were detained.
Over the years, our Litigation Program has won dozens of lawsuits challenging unjust immigration policies and has compelled the government to disclose information key to reforming our broken immigration system. AI Justice’s direct services with immigrant clients inform our litigation work in federal and state courts. This year, we had many victories to be proud of, including:
- A federal judge has blocked #SB168, an anti-immigration bill aimed at banning sanctuary cities in Florida. Portions of the law were declared unconstitutional and discriminatory. AI Justice served as a plaintiff organization in the litigation.
- We reached a settlement with the federal government mandating federal court oversight of compliance with CDC pandemic guidelines and other requirements in South Florida’s ICE detention facilities.
- We reached a settlement with Glades County Detention Center for its discriminatory and abusive practices that prevented detained Muslim immigrants from practicing their faith, including being regularly denied acres to halal food and prayer rugs. The Plaintiffs will receive damages for the denial of their right to observe their religion.
In October, we published a report highlighting the firsthand accounts of people experiencing immigration detention during the pandemic. Read it here.
Defending Children’s Rights
Our Children’s Legal Program provides free legal services to immigrant children, many of whom have suffered abuse, abandonment, or neglect. AI Justice is the only organization authorized to provide legal services to children detained in South Florida’s shelters and screen their cases to identify those eligible for deportation relief.
We served 3,237 children in 2021, working around the clock to serve the high volume of children who have recently crossed the border and are detained at our local facilities.
We worked with an unaccompanied children task force on analyzing and commenting on new policies that affect children and unaccompanied minors and policy changes by ORR.
We participated in the Asylum Working Group calls, where various outreach and proposals for Biden Administration are being discussed regarding the Remain in Mexico policy and asylum.
There are over 44,000 immigrant children currently trapped in the SIJS backlog. The backlog impacts children from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, leaving them waiting 2-5 years for green cards even though they were already approved for protection.
Keeping Families Together
AI Justice’s Family Defense Program (FDP) provides education, legal advice, and representation to mixed-status families and long-time residents whose futures are uncertain due to the erosion of legal protections.
FDP had 1,209 active cases for direct legal representation in 2021.
We are part of a major partnership to assist Venezuelan and Haitian Nationals apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). We provided direct application assistance, conducted legal clinics, hosted informational sessions, and trained volunteer attorneys on policy.
5 million undocumented immigrants have served as essential workers throughout the pandemic.
Ensuring Access to Counsel
This year, we launched our Pro Bono Program! The Pro Bono Program works towards creating an immigration system that affords equal opportunity for all by filling in the gaps between the legal needs of immigrants and their ability to connect with pro bono attorneys.
The Pro Bono Program supports access to counsel for those in need because no one should have to fight their case alone. Click here to learn more and get involved!
Immigrants with representation are five times more likely than those who are unrepresented to obtain relief.