CLINIC History

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In 1988, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) established CLINIC as a legally distinct 501(c)(3) organization to support a rapidly growing network of community-based immigration programs. CLINIC's network originally was comprised of 17 programs. It has since increased to 300 diocesan and other affiliated immigration programs with 400 offices in 47 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. The network employs roughly 1,200 BIA 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 reference to their race, religion, gender, ethnic group, or other distinguishing characteristics.


  • Since 1997, CLINIC’s programs have helped more than 100,000 people apply for citizenship; helped approximately 12,000 refugees and asylees apply for green cards; and have provided immigrants with over 15,000 hours of English language instruction.
  • CLINIC represents more than 170 dioceses and religious communities that bring foreign-born priests, sisters, seminarians and religious laypersons to the United States each year.
  • CLINIC trained more than 7,000 immigration practitioners in 2012.
  • CLINIC’s Attorney-of-the-Day Help Line fields at least 20 calls per day from member agencies on the most effective strategy for representing clients. CLINIC’s attorneys staff the hotline which covers topics such as family-based immigration, naturalization, temporary employment authorization, and relief from removal.
  • CLINIC’s pro bono attorneys have filed briefs and represented more than 500 immigrants before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).


CLINIC has received numerous awards for its work, including:

  • Catholic Charities USA Centennial Award, 2012
  • Excellence in Advocacy Award from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, 2003
  • First Annual Monsignor George C. Higgins Award from the Archdiocese of Washington for leadership and advocacy on behalf of low-wage and exploited immigrant laborers, 2002
  • Human Rights Award from the United Nation’s Association of the National Capital area for service to detained immigrants, 1998
  • Special recognition by Pope John Paul II for its collaboration with Jesuit Relief Services to create integrated legal and pastoral programs in two immigration detention centers (“a model project for the new millennium”).

CLINIC staff have received such prestigious awards as:

  • Catholic Charities USA "Keeping the Dream Alive" Award (Maria Odom, 2011)
  • National Immigration Law Center (NILC)  for advocacy on behalf of low-income immigration and for service to organization as NILC's first executive director (Charles Wheeler, 2009)
  • Women of Justice Award by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, Women's Bar Association and the Massachusetts Association of Women Lawyers (Kristina Karpinski, 2009)
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association Pro Bono Award (Mark Von Sternberg, 2002)
  • Daniel Levy award from Matthew-Bender LEXIS-NEXIS for excellence in written scholarship on behalf of immigrants and mentoring of legal practitioners (Charles Wheeler, 2002)
  • Detention Watch Network Lifetime Achievement Award for extraordinary dedication for serving and advocating for people in detention (James Haggerty, 2002)
  • Detention Watch Network Award for Justice Work (Christina DeConcini, 2000)