Recognize and Reflect | a woman wearing the American flag in a crowd

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.

25 YEARS:
DEFENDING JUSTICE.
UPHOLDING DREAMS.

1996

Non-profit legal service agency, The Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, known today as Americans for Immigrant Justice, was founded by Executive Director Cheryl Little, Sister Maureen Kelleher RSHM, and Sister Catherine Cassidy HM.

FIAC - Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center logo

A SINGLE MISSION:
TO PROTECT & PROMOTE THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF IMMIGRANTS
Collage of three founders

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YEAR ONE:
10 Staff
$400K Raised
3000 Cases

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“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

GAINING RECOGNITION

1997 Best Attorneys.
Miami New Times.

Best of Miami '97

1998

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.

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LANDMARK CASE:
THE CADENA TRAFFICKING CASE

The Miami Herald
Stop Domestic Violence graphic

“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.

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Ana | Survivor

FIGHTING FOR CHILDREN

The New York Times article

2000

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LANDMARK CASE:
SIX-YEAR-OLD FEGA

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.

2001

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.

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Miami Herald | For migrant attorneys representing children, work is just beginning

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LANDMARK CASE:
BABY MARAGARET

Exclamation icon9 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.

LOCAL Newspaper - Lack of oversight blamed for Krome Center woes

DEFENDING DIGNITY

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.

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LANDMARK CASE:
REFORM AT KROME

“We don’t take easy cases and we don’t give up.”

Quote icon— 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

Trophy and certificate graphic
Freedom Network USA

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.

2002

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LANDMARK CASE:
DAVID JOSEPH

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.

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HAITIAN REFUGEES NOT TERRORISTS

2002 Haiti news images shot by Bruce Weber

DYING FOR
DECENT CARE

Brother I'm Dying book cover collage

2004

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LANDMARK CASE:
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.

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Heroes of the American Dream Award
2004, National Immigration Forum

Nelson Poynter Civil Liberties Award
2004, American Civil Liberties Union

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EXPOSING
MUSLIM SCAPEGOATING

2005

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.

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Palm Beach Post & Miami Herald articles

“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.”

Quote icon— FIAC

Securing Our Borders

“This timely report brings much needed light and much greater objectivity to the intense debate on immigration issues now taking place across the country.”

Quote icon— Senator Edward M. Kennedy

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Marking its 10th anniversary, Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center has become a nationally respected powerhouse on behalf of society’s most vulnerable.” – The Miami Herald

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YEAR TEN:
40 Employees

$2.3M Raised

2006

CELEBRATING 10 YEARS!

Advocacy Group Celebrates 10 Years

“Their tireless work on behalf of all immigrants, from Haitian asylum-seekers to migrant farm workers, is desperately needed.”

Quote icon— 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.”

Quote icon— Paul Doyle
The Florida Bar Foundation

2007

Free Haitian Refugess

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?”

Quote icon— Cheryl Little, Co-Founder

CNN SPECIAL REPORT

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FIAC client Marta and her attorney were featured in the award-winning CNN documentary series “Latino in America,” hosted by Soledad O’Brien.

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2009

CNN Special Report image of a young person holding a letter

TRAIL OF DREAMS

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LANDMARK CASE:
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.

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2010

Trail of Dreams - collage of dreamers

“We are aware of the risk. We are risking our future because our present is unbearable.”

Quote icon— Felipe Matos, 23, on a 1,500-mile march to Washington, D.C.

Gomez Brothers Avoid Deportation

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LANDMARK CASE:
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.”

Quote icon— Juan Gomez

Torn Apart artcile & photo of earthquake damage in Haiti

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.

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2011

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.”

Quote icon— Bill Frelick, Human Rights Watch NY

VICTORY FOR DREAMERS!

Dreamers holding a sign that says WE ARE AMERICA!

2012

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.”

Quote icon— Hon. Manny Diaz, DHS Advisory Council & Former City of Miami Mayor

2013

PROTECTING SURVIVORS

AI Justice helped defeat proposed changes to the Violence Against Women Act which would have decimated decades of protection for immigrant victims.

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Los Angeles Times article

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VAWA STANDS

In memory of Holly Skolnick | collage of photos

2014

IN MEMORY OF
HOLLY SKOLNICK

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.

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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.

Holly Skolnick Fellowship photos

2017

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.

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Movie premiere of Beloved
Collage of photos | Building the Wall: A New War on Immigrants

DEFENDING FAMILIES

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.

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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.

Family Separation. Broken Systems, Broken Families.

Exclamation icon101 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

2018

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2020

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.

Do My Rights Matter? report cover
Photo of a courthouse and a group of AI Justice lawyers

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.

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2021

25 YEARS:
DEFENDING JUSTICE.
UPHOLDING DREAMS.

Since its founding, AI Justice has served more than 145K individuals from 160 countries.

AI Justice. 25 Years. 1996-2021

THE WORK IS NOT DONE!

DONATE NOW TO
HELP FUND THE FIGHT.

TAKE ACTION

Now more than ever, we need your support to continue to fight on the behalf of children, families, and disenfranchised groups. You can drive REAL IMPACT with AI Justice.

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Questions? Contact Americans for Immigrant Justice.

6355 NW 36th St, Suite 2201, Miami, FL 33166 • Tel: 305-573-1106 • Fax: 305-576-6273 • Email: info@aijustice.org

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