About CLINIC and Our History | CLINIC

About CLINIC and Our History

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The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., was established in 1988 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to support a rapidly growing network of community-based immigration programs. The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act had made it possible for 2.7 million people to obtain permanent resident status (along with new sanctions for employers who hired undocumented immigrants and increased border enforcement). Demand for low-cost immigration legal services skyrocketed. CLINIC’s creation enabled Catholic organizations to get the necessary training and institutional support to help meet that need.

The legally distinct 501(c)(3) organization was initially comprised of a handful of diocese-based immigration legal services agencies. CLINIC has grown to more than 370 programs in 49 states and the District of Columbia. The network includes faith-based institutions, farmworker programs, domestic violence shelters, ethnic community-focused organizations, libraries and other entities that serve immigrants. Agencies in the network employ about 2,300 staff (mostly accredited representatives and attorneys) who, in turn, serve hundreds of thousands of low-income immigrants each year. CLINIC and its affiliate agencies represent low-income immigrants without regard for their race, religion, gender, ethnic group or other distinguishing characteristics.

CLINIC’s staff trains close to 10,000 people a year, in topics ranging from the basics of immigration law to the nuances of representing clients in detention.

Facts about CLINIC

  • CLINIC’s network in 2017 conducted an estimated 276,000 consultations, more than half of which became cases for network agencies.
  • Also in 2017, we estimate that CLINIC’s network filed as many as 247,000 applications, petitions, motions, or waivers. Those applications served about 500,000 people, including applicants’ dependents.
  • Volunteers accounted for more than 84,000 hours of assistance in 2017, enabling programs to provide legal services to a broader base.
  • Nearly 5,400 community outreach presentations in 2017 reached nearly 325,000 people, providing information about legal rights and options.


Among recent publications and resources by CLINIC

A Practice Advisory on Strategies to Combat Government Efforts to Terminate Unaccompanied Child Determinations

Immigration Bond: How to Get Your Money Back

Amicus Brief on Family as a Particular Social Group

A Guide to Assisting Asylum Seekers with In Absentia Removal Orders

Denied a Day in Court: The Government’s Use of In Absentia Removal Orders Against Families Seeking Asylum

The citizenship test (a study guide)

A Guide to Obtaining Release From Immigration Detention

The Travel Ban, The Court Orders and What’s Actually Happening


A brief video about the history of CLINIC