RECOGNIZE & REFLECT
Take a look at where we’ve been and what’s ahead. Explore our interactive timeline.
- Scroll to see our impact in action
- Discover where our passion to support our clients comes from, and the landmark cases that solidified our position as a leader in the fight for immigrant rights
- Learn about how YOU can take action
As you explore the timeline – click on the plus + symbol to dive into more detail.
“Laboring under unmanageable caseloads and with scant resources, the center’s attorneys prove that certain principles — respect for basic rights, fair treatment under the law, a recognition of our common humanity — are impervious to demagoguery.”
1997 Best Attorneys.
Miami New Times.
FIAC became a leader in the battle against human trafficking representing 20 Mexican women and girls, some as young as 14, held captive and forced into horrific sexual slavery.
Working closely with the Justice Department and through testimony before the U.S. Senate, FIAC helped shape our current laws protecting victims of trafficking and domestic violence.+
THE CADENA TRAFFICKING CASE
“I call FIAC my angels. They saved me, and now I can have a life where I am free and safe.”
JUSTICE FOR SURVIVORS
Our Lucha Program (Spanish for “Struggle”) is recognized globally for its pioneering work helping immigrant survivors of human trafficking, sexual assault and domestic violence gain freedom from their abusers and obtain legal status.+
FIGHTING FOR CHILDREN
Alone and scared, a six-year-old Nigerian girl named Fega spent over a year in detention, unable to communicate with other children or officials in the shelter. FIAC attorneys took her case and watched her weep with joy at hearing her native language for the first time. Fega was released to a cousin and joined FIAC in testifying before the Senate.
Abandoned after being smuggled into the U.S., Baby Margaret was brought to court where an immigration judge asked if the deportation officer would represent the infant. A FIAC attorney stood up and took the case, leading to the launch of the Children’s Legal Program.+
9 out of 10 children without attorneys are ordered deported to the dangers they fled; 70% of unaccompanied children who go to court with a lawyer win their cases.
FIAC exposed sexual misdeeds by Krome Detention Center officers and deplorable conditions in Florida’s county jails, prompting Justice Department investigations and resulting in systematic changes in the treatment of detained immigrants.+
REFORM AT KROME
“We don’t take easy cases and we don’t give up.”
— Cheryl Little, Co-Founder
Stephen M. Goldstein
Award for Excellence
2001, The Florida Bar Foundation
Justice for All Award
2001, National Crime Victims’
Rights Committee and
Coral Gables Police Department
Founding Members of the Freedom Network USA
Freedom Network USA is an internationally recognized coalition of anti-trafficking experts working to ensure that trafficked persons have access to justice, safety, and opportunity.
In the wake of 9/11, with immigrants’ rights under threat and xenophobia on the rise, a boat of Haitian asylum seekers ran aground near Key Biscayne.
The nation watched as FIAC came to the aid of the immigrant hopefuls.+
HAITIAN REFUGEES NOT TERRORISTS
REV. JOSEPH DANTICA
The death of 81-year-old Rev. Dantica due to abusive treatment while in immigration custody sparked outrage, shining a spotlight on the long-documented inadequacy of medical care at ICE detention facilities.+
Heroes of the American Dream Award
2004, National Immigration Forum
Nelson Poynter Civil Liberties Award
2004, American Civil Liberties Union
FIAC published an influential report calling out widespread discrimination against Middle Eastern and other immigrants post-9/11, who were subjected to round-ups, special registrations, secret hearings, and prolonged detention.+
“These policies did nothing to advance the War on Terror. They did not yield a single terrorist in Florida, but instead distressed and unsettled the lives of hundreds of thousands of hard-working, honest immigrants.”
Marking its 10th anniversary, Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center has become a nationally respected powerhouse on behalf of society’s most vulnerable.” – The Miami Herald
CELEBRATING 10 YEARS!
“Their tireless work on behalf of all immigrants, from Haitian asylum-seekers to migrant farm workers, is desperately needed.”
— Miami New Times
2006 “Best Charity”
“FIAC has become one of the premier advocacy centers for immigrants in the nation. Its systemic advocacy had demonstrated the power of legal advocacy to change and hold an unjust national system accountable.”
— Paul Doyle
The Florida Bar Foundation
THE NEW YORK TIMES
May 31, 2007, Quote of the Day
“It’s heartbreaking. How do you explain to people asking for refuge that even in the United States of America we can’t assure them they will receive due process and justice?”
— Cheryl Little, Co-Founder
TRAIL OF DREAMS
TRAIL OF DREAMS
FIAC represented the four brave “Trail of Dreams” students, Felipe Matos, Gaby Pacheco, Carlos Roa, and Juan Rodriguez, who walked 1500 miles from Miami to Washington, D.C. to promote the DREAM Act. Upon arrival, FIAC held a news conference at the National Press Club with these remarkable Dreamers.
FIAC’s report, “Unleash the Dream,” was critical to drawing attention and securing legal status for all four Dreamers.+
“We are aware of the risk. We are risking our future because our present is unbearable.”
— Felipe Matos, 23, on a 1,500-mile march to Washington, D.C.
THE GOMEZ BROTHERS
FIAC has secured the release from detention of numerous students whose high-profile cases created the model for similar cases nationwide. Juan and Alex Gomez’ release from detention in 2007 helped lay the groundwork for reform.
“Every drop of sweat I’ve spilled, every single friend I’ve made, every pledge of allegiance I have recited, and every pivotal point of development in my life has been in the United States. I have no other home.”
— Juan Gomez
EARTHQUAKE ROCKS HAITI
On January 12, 2010, an earthquake struck Haiti leaving 300,000 dead and over 1.2 million displaced and homeless. FIAC, a leader in advocacy for Haitians, worked closely with members of Congress to obtain and secure Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian asylum-seekers.+
Seeing hardening attitudes toward immigrants nationwide, FIAC decided to step up its advocacy for sensible immigration policies and reform. Our renewed determination prompted a national agenda and a name change from Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC) to Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice).
FIAC GOES NATIONAL AS AMERICANS FOR IMMIGRANT JUSTICE
“Americans for Immigrant Justice serves as the eyes and ears for international refugee and human rights monitors about immigrant justice not only in Florida, but, now, throughout the United States.”
— Bill Frelick, Human Rights Watch NY
VICTORY FOR DREAMERS!
AI Justice was instrumental in the Obama Administration’s adoption of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in June 2012.
“Little was the visionary who pushed the Administration to grant deferred action to childhood arrivals when no one else thought it possible. Her Op-ed in the Miami Herald in April 2012, which generated attention from the White House and DHS officials prompted me to call her to see how I could help.”
— Hon. Manny Diaz, DHS Advisory Council & Former City of Miami Mayor
IN MEMORY OF
Holly Skolnick served on AI Justice’s Board for 12 years, including two years as President. A prominent litigator and shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, LLP, she was chair of the firm’s Pro Bono Initiative and President/Founder of the Greenberg Traurig Fellowship Foundation, providing legal representation to underserved communities and causes.+
The Holly Skolnick Fellowship & Human Rights Award has been given in her name since 2014 to honor advocates at our Annual Dinner. Recipients include actress Rosie Perez, activists Paola Mendoza, Khizr Khan & Jose Antonio Vargas, broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien, and renowned author Edwidge Danticat.
AI Justice supporters Anne Hathaway & Michael Bloomberg have also graced the stage as speakers at this special celebration.
In Memory of Jonathan Demme
An Oscar winning film director, dear friend, and unwavering advocate for human rights, Jonathan was driven to help our country’s most vulnerable immigrants. He didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk. Jonathan served on AI Justice’s Honorary Board from 1996-2017.+
Following the 2016 election AI Justice increased its outreach in the community and launched its newest legal program, The Family Defense Program, to prevent families from being torn apart. Many of these families have lived here for decades, worked hard, paid taxes, and have American-born children.
AI Justice began helping children separated from their parents at the Southwest Texas border in July 2017. Many of the children the organization saw were so young that AI Justice created a coloring book to learn their stories. The staff represented children as young as 3 years old and helped reunite dozens of children with their parents.
101 FAMILIES REUNITED. 125 CHILDREN REPRESENTED.
“Excellent organizations [that] need your generous help to climb the mountain that is 2018”
2018, The Nation
AI Justice listed as one of ten organizations worthy of support
2018, The Huffington Post
FIGHTING FOR HUMANE TREATMENT
In the AI Justice report, Do My Rights Matter? The Mistreatment of Unaccompanied Children in CPB Custody, we highlighted stories collected from more than 9,000 children interviewed between January and October 2019. Too often they were subjected to emotional, verbal, and physical abuse by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers.
LITIGATING FOR JUSTICE
AI Justice lawyers have won numerous lawsuits in federal court challenging unjust policies and practices and compelling the government to disclose information key to reforming our broken immigration system.+