Immigrant Rights

AALDEF’s Immigrant Rights Program involves legal representation, litigation, policy advocacy, community education, and organizing to support Asian immigrants of all backgrounds. We are committed to advocating alongside directly affected immigrant communities for humane and dynamic immigration laws and policies, where the dignity of all migrants is realized. AALDEF is an active voice on immigrants’ rights issues on both the national and local level and is among the few groups that provides legal representation and community education to marginalized Asian immigrants, including undocumented individuals and those with criminal convictions.


  • In 1993, we represented Chinese immigrants seeking political asylum following the Golden Venture freighter that ran aground in Far Rockaway, Queens, NY.
  • In 1994, we launched the Asian American Citizenship Project in response to anti-immigrant sentiments, assisting thousands of permanent residents to become U.S. citizens.
  • Following 9/11, AALDEF met an overwhelming need for legal assistance and information among immigrant communities targeted by each eave of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Security Entry-Exit Registration Program. We have provided legal advice and representation to thousands of individuals affected by post 9/11 immigration policy and educated tens of thousands through major “Know Your Rights” campaigns.
  • In 2005, we launched the Asian Anti-Trafficking Initiative, to provide legal representation to Asian women and girls trafficked to the U.S., including domestic workers and restaurant employees.
  • After the Obama administration announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, AALDEF hosted a series of legal clinics to provide legal advice and representation to individuals who qualify for the program and supported the launch of the first undocumented Asian youth group on the East Coast.
  • In 2013, AALDEF, the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition, and Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) released a groundbreaking report: Mapping Muslims: NYPD Spying and Its Impact on American Muslims.

Program Priorities:

  • Providing a combination of legal representation and community education to Asian immigrants through regular immigration clinics established through collaborations with our community partners.
  • Working with community groups, through litigation and policy work, to advocate for Southeast Asian immigrants facing deportation as a result of criminal convictions.
  • Advocating for just and humane immigration policies for undocumented immigrants in partnership with our community partner, Revolutionizing Asian American Immigrant Stories on the East Coast (RAISE).
  • Creating materials and compiling resources, with our community partners, for recently arrived migrants who face obstacles navigating bureaucratic processes in the U.S. immigration system.
  • Hosting Know Your Rights trainings and other informational workshops regarding immigration policies to grassroots organizations and low-wage workers.