Comprehensive Immigration Reform

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Large-Scale Immigration Legal Service Delivery Model for Administrative Relief


Click the Image Below to Explore the Presentation


CLINIC advocates for comprehensive immigration reform addressing in particular the needs of the undocumented population.  CLINIC looks to how charitable-based immigration legal services can be delivered on a large-scale regardless of what major immigration reform is passed as law by Congress or authorized as administrative relief by The White House.

A community-wide approach with resources and collaboration from many legal and non-legal institutions is essential to serving as many low-income immigrants as possible.  As such, CLINIC provides this dynamic, graphic presentation titled, “Large-Scale Immigration Legal Service Delivery Model for Administrative Relief.”  The model is presented in the form of a Prezi, a cloud-based presentation software and storytelling tool for presenting ideas on a virtual canvas.  Audio narration is provided for the presentation.  A script for the narration can be found at the bottom of this page.

The purpose of the model is intended as a teaching tool to help local organizations share their similar and dissimilar expectations for implementing immigration reform so true collaboration can be achieved.  It is also provided to emphasize the complexities along the path immigrants take in seeking to acquire an immigration legal benefit, especially their first in documenting themselves before the U.S. government.  CLINIC believes that careful planning and resource rich efforts using human capital and technology will allow local communities to respond successfully to the needs of immigrants at critical times.


Revisit this site as the Prezi-based model will be updated, especially after The White House makes its administrative relief announcement and DHS promulgates regulations on the various benefits offered.

Joint USCCB-CLINIC Letter on Executive Action

On September 9, 2014, Most Reverend Eusebio Elizondo, Chairman of the Committee on Migration of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann, Chairman of board of directors of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) implored Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to work with the President to authorize deferred action for deserving groups. The bishops state, “With immigration reform legislation stalled in Congress, our nation can no longer wait to send the suffering of family separation caused by our broken immigration system.”


The bishops, on behalf of USCCB and CLINIC, recommend steps to address the unacceptable family separation caused by our broken immigration system. 


Read a copy of the joint USCCB-CLINIC letter (PDF)

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Promoting Immigrant Integration

CLINIC views comprehensive immigration reform as an important opportunity to facilitate more immigrant integration opportunities. If CIR will be an historic piece of legislation, it is wise to contemplate how immigrant integration can be promoted before, during, and after legislation is passed. Immigration reform in 1986 was an unfulfilled opportunity for greater immigrant integration assistance because immigrant advocacy and service organizations were few, small, and overwhelmed by the new law’s impact. Immigration reform to legalize up to 12 million people will be a historic opportunity for the United States to demonstrate the strengths of its democracy and rich immigrant culture by establishing a clear pathway to citizenship. Furthermore, the millions of lawful permanent residents currently eligible to naturalize provide another immediate opportunity to advance immigrant integration, even before CIR is enacted.

While immigrant integration chiefly begins and advances through legal benefits, it is important to include English language skills, education and job training, home ownership, volunteer work, knowledge of rights and responsibilities before and after obtaining citizenship, contributions to the United States’ democratic principles, and other factors inherent in immigrant integration.  

Wherever immigrant integration is facilitated, either in a legal immigration program, place of worship, school, neighborhood or workplace, it is prudent to consider these principles about integration:

  • Integration is a complex social process;
  • Integration requires time and should be viewed as a process spanning more than one generation;
  • Integration is a multi-directional process requiring the participation and buy-in of the various groups represented in a community, especially the receiving community;
  • Integration takes place at the local level and a community’s efforts must be designed with the local community’s characteristics in mind; and
  • Integration efforts succeed best when they focus on immigrant and community assets – not only how immigrants struggle.

With the passage of comprehensive immigration reform and expanded immigrant integration as a result, the U.S. society can expect to see the following outcomes:

  • Social cohesiveness;
  • Social justice;
  • Stronger families; and
  • Civic participation and equality.


CLINIC'S Immigrant Integration Resources

CLINIC conducted extensive research and interviews to develop a comprehensive plan to naturalize the 8 million currently eligible and respond to the naturalization needs of immigrants who could become eligible in the future if comprehensive immigration reform enables it.

A More Perfect Union: A National Citizenship Plan
Naturalization towards citizenship and civic engagement by immigrants is a high priority for CLINIC and its network of affiliates.  CLINIC is noted for its many resources in support of naturalization projects to serve the most vulnerable immigrants in their pursuit of this specific American dream.  An on-line resource center that includes a toolkit is available to immigration programs and immigrants.

Immigrant-Led Organizers in Their Own Voices: Local Realities and Shared Visions
CLINIC funded 17 immigrant-led organizing efforts across the country for three years.  This report looks at ways immigrants actively pursue integration for themselves and social justice for our society overall.


Back to CLINIC's CIR Resource Page

Issues Around Immigration Reform

In order to pass comprehensive immigration reform, increased awareness among the public, particularly voters, is essential.  These materials are provided to help the reader in gaining more awareness and being a public voice promoting immigration reform.

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Structuring and Implementing an Immigrant Legalization Program

By Donald Kerwin and Laureen Laglagaron



While comprehensive immigration reform may have moved to the back burner politically, Congress ultimately will need to reform US immigration policy as immigration enforcement alone will not prove effective in dealing with the nation’s estimated 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants.

This Policy Brief argues that a carefully planned legalization program is an essential component to successful reform. A large-scale legalization program merits a comprehensive planning process beginning even prior to passage of legislation, as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other stakeholders build infrastructure, finalize policies and procedures, and prepare for a registration process.

The study makes the case that a broad legalizetion program should begin with an initial registration process that rapidly identifies and vets applicants. Such a process would be the best way and, indeed, the only feasible way to achieve the immigrant integration, public safety, and national security goals of a legalization program. A registration program would screen out public safety and national security threats, and would allow qualified applicants to live and work legally in the United States while they attempted to earn legal permanent status and to integrate into society. 

To the extent that the articulated goals of a registration program lead to conflicting programmatic options, the study favors solutions that would encourage the largest number of potentially eligible persons to come forward during the registration process. None of the core goals of a legalization program would be met if large numbers of unauthorized immigrants remained in the shadows of US society. 

Many commentators have questioned whether DHS could successfully lead and administer a large-scale legalization program. This Policy Brief concludes that it could, but not without a well-crafted bill, sufficient appropriated funding to build program infrastructure, an unprecedented mobilization of public

Click to View "Structuring and Implementing an Immigrant Legalization Program" (PDF)


Back to CLINIC's CIR Resource Page

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Will History Repeat Itself? A Guide to Immigration Legalization Preparation

By Peggy Gleason

As you know, the House and Senate are scheduled to negotiate a compromise that could produce a comprehensive immigration reform bill.  For the first time since the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986, legalization may become law.  Without knowing exactly what will pass, it is difficult to plan for our programs.  However, we know the rough outlines of the possible legislation and we can mine our own experiences for concrete preparation steps we can take now.

Download the Full Report (PDF)


Back to CLINIC's CIR Resource Page

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Legalization Readiness - Gathering Supporting Documentation

By Peggy Gleason


Regardless of what legalization program is eventually enacted and implemented, applicants will need to submit supporting documents to establish that they qualify. What documents are likely to be needed? What is the best way to organize them? How should clients now be counseled on ways to gather these documents? By looking at the prior legalization under the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986, and at the current proposals, we can estimate what may be required once a new legalization program is enacted.

  • Basic Elements. Most legalization proposals require proof of identity, continuous physical presence/ residence in the United States, and employment history. The time period over which applicants need to prove these elements will depend on the final version of the statute. Date and manner of entry to the United States are also likely to be facts that applicants will have to establish.
  • Warning. While continuing to plan for the day when legalization is implemented, it is necessary to warn clients once again that no legalization exists at this moment. They should not pay fees to anyone to file an application. Nonetheless, clients
    can be advised that should legalization pass, it is best to be prepared with an organized set of documents.
  • Save that Piece of Paper. Immigration practitioners are accustomed to helping their clients gather documentation since most immigration applications require supporting proof. Many immigrants have already learned to become hoarders of documentary records, as well. They have learned through personal experience that the Immigration Service or some other government entity may ask them to prove where they have been during a given period time, what they have been doing, and whether they paid taxes while doing it. Those who have not learned this yet need to be counseled.


Download the Full Report (PDF)


Back to CLINIC's CIR Resource Page

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The Case for Legalization: Lessons Learned from 1986 and Recommendations for the Future

By Donald Kerwin and Charles Wheeler


This article originally appeared in Issues in Immigration, Vol. 1 (Center for Migration Studies, 2004). It was reprinted by Bender’s Immigration Bulletin, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Feb. 1, 2007).


The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 offered a significant benefit and created what its sponsors hoped would be a formidable club. On the one hand, it provided a path to legal status for nearly three million undocumented persons. On the other, it established sanctions against employers who hired the undocumented, in the hope that this would discourage undocumented work and migration. By the time its application period ended in December 1988, the U.S. undocumented population had fallen to between one and one-half and three million persons. At the time, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) predicted that “[f]uture growth or decline of the resident illegal population will depend partly on [IRCA’s] effectiveness.” By this measure, IRCA has failed egregiously.

The very thought of another legalization program is anathema to immigration restrictionists who believe it would reward lawbreakers, create incentives to undocumented migration, and exacerbate the challenge of integrating the nation’s historically high population of foreign-born persons. Even if this were true, the alternative is less tenable. The task of removing millions of undocumented persons would be preclusively expensive, logistically impossible, and politically unpopular, given the draconian impact on U.S.-born family members and the U.S. labor market. Alternatively, to ignore the issue would result in a permanent underclass of disenfranchised persons, which would undermine the nation’s civic life, values, and security.


Download the Full Report (PDF)


Back to CLINIC's CIR Resource Page


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Toolkit for Naturalization Workshops


A naturalization group application workshop is a one-day community event that brings professionals and trained volunteers together to assist Lawful Permanent Residents in completing the Application for Naturalization (N-400).  The workshop is an essential tool for efficiently and effectively providing naturalization assistance to large numbers of people.  The success of the workshop model depends on careful planning, thorough training of staff and volunteers, and high quality services. The purpose of this toolkit is to help charitable immigration programs achieve a successful workshop. The forms and sample documents can be used as is or adapted by local programs for their own needs.

We welcome your feedback on this toolkit and its utility. Also, if you have any documents your agency has developed that you would like to send us for inclusion in the toolkit, or suggestions for additional materials to include, please send these to

General Information

Planning & Organizing


Sample Outreach Flyers Announcing Naturalization Workshops:


Forms to Use in the Workshop

Attachments for the N-400

Information for Applicants

·         NEW NAC Best Practices Toolkit for Using Volunteers [please add this]

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Assisting Clients in Complying with Tax Filing Requirements

Back to CLINIC's CIR Resource Page


Employed immigrants, regardless of status or documents used to acquire employment, are required to file taxes. Service providers working with the foreign-born can offer tax assistance preparation and support as their clients work to fulfill this federal requirement. Those without a Social Security Number can apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to use when filing taxes. Please see the federal government’s resources on applying for and using the ITIN below.

Assisting immigrants in applying for and using an ITIN is a powerful way of encouraging a culture that promotes immigrant integration within your agency. Naturalization applicants are required to show good moral character, and demonstrating through their tax history that they have complied with federal and state tax filing requirements is a great way to meet this requirement.  Big changes to immigration legislation in the future will likely require applicants to prove good moral character and that they have been filing tax returns.  Encouraging potential applicants to file now will help them be ready when a bill passes. 


Resources from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Applying for and Using an ITIN:


In English:

2013 ITIN Updated Procedures Frequently Asked Questions

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)


In Spanish:

Número de Identificación Personal del Contribuyente (ITIN)

Información General sobre el ITIN


For more information and ideas on promoting immigrant integration within your community, please see CLINIC’s Building Welcoming Communities webpage. You may also contact Leya Speasmaker at with any questions or comments.  For more information about preparing for legalization, contact Michelle Sardone, CLINIC’s Legalization Program Director, at

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Webinar: CIR 2013-'14: The Road Forward from the Church’s Perspective

Click here to download the PowerPoint Slides


This webinar will look at the legislation and politics which will shape the debate on immigration reform in the House of Representatives, explaining the Church’s position on individual bills and the strategy for winning final legislation the Church can support.  Panelists will discuss proper messaging for the House debate and share tactics for getting these messages out to influence a positive final outcome.

Held on: 11/1/13


  • Kevin Appleby, Director, Migration Policy and Public Affairs, US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)

  • Ashley Feasley, Immigration Policy Advisor (USCCB)

  • Michelle Sardone, Legalization Program Director, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)

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Asylee Information

In recent years, more than 24,000 people from over 100 nations have been granted asylum in the United States. Asylees have often suffered from persecution in their country of origin, forced migration, detention in the United States, and the uncertainty of the asylum adjudication process. Most confront systemic and bureaucratic barriers to resettlement and integration, and need well-coordinated and prompt social services to ease their transition.

CLINIC's National Asylee Information and Referral Line, which operated for 11 years, from 2001 to 2012, referred asylees to more than 500 local providers of resettlement services such as English language classes, job placement assistance, temporary cash assistance, and medical assistance. Funded by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and operated by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, the referral line provided a single, centralized source of accurate information about service eligibility and programs across the country that assist asylees with the resources they need for a smooth adjustment and early self-sufficiency.  Referral line counselors spoke 18 languages, including English, Spanish, Haitian-Creole, Chinese, French, Russian, and Arabic.

Over its 11 year history, the referral line project:

  • Provided one-on-one help to over 39,000 asylees (about 300 per month).
  • Created and maintained an up-to-date referral database (the first of its kind) of more than 500 local refugee service providers throughout the U.S.
  • Placed outreach information in the regional USCIS asylum offices and improved outreach to asylees in the immigration courts.
  • Created an informational guide to assist service providers who work with asylees. The guide contains information about the benefits and services for which asylees are eligible, including temporary cash and medical assistance, employment assistance, English classes, employment authorization, Social Security cards, I-94s, adjustment of status, travel authorization, change of address, family reunification, and federal student financial aid.




Benefits & Services

CLINIC guide, Asylee Eligibility for Resettlement Assistance 

ORR outreach flyer for asylees (available in 9 languages)

USCIS fee waiver application, Form I-912

USCIS policy guidance on fee waivers, March 2011

USCIS fact sheet on asylee travel


General Information

DHS Office of Immigration Statistics 2012 annual flow report on refugees and asylees

Executive Office for Immigration Review asylum statistics

USCIS asylum page

ORR policy memoranda on asylees


For more information about this project, please contact Laura Burdick at

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Overview of State Resolutions in Support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Overview of State Resolutions in Support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform

     The climate in the states on immigration has changed noticeably over the past few years. After comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) failed to pass in 2007, states began enacting a patchwork of their own immigration measures. Arizona’s 2010 sweeping anti-immigrant law, for example, was followed by a series of copycat laws in other states as legislators focused on enforcement and making life for immigrants as difficult as possible. While state immigration enforcement bills continued to be introduced in 2012 and 2013, most lacked the traction to pass. 2013 has witnessed a marked shift towards pro-immigrant legislation as numerous states have passed laws to extend driving privileges and in-state tuition rates to the undocumented population. In addition, states have been sending the clear message to Congress that our broken immigration system needs comprehensive federal reform.


Click Here for the Full Overview (PDF)

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Estimates of the Size and Demography of the Undocumented on-Citizen Population in U.S. Catholic Dioceses, 2013

In 2013, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) commissioned the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University to complete a study estimating the size, characteristics, and geographic distribution of the U.S. undocumented (i.e., non-citizens who are not temporary migrants such as students, diplomats, short-term visitors, etc., those who are legal permanent residents, or refugees or asylees). This is similar to a study conducted by CARA for CLINIC in 2006 using 2005 data. CARA used current data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Homeland Security Office of Immigration Statistics to create “residual” estimates of the undocumented population by diocese, the geography of the Catholic Church in the United States, which was compiled with state and county-level data and estimates. The research provides profiles to assist CLINIC in their mission to provide assistance to immigrants in need of legal representation and advice.

Click here to view the study.

Senate CIR Bill: Highlights of Proposed Legislation

Legislation was introduced in the Senate today that would create a pathway to citizenship for most of the undocumented persons living in the United States.  It would also overhaul the family-based immigration system, create new opportunities for guest workers and other nonimmigrants, and impose heightened border, interior, and workplace enforcement.  Listen as CLINIC staff summarizes the most important parts of the proposed legislation on this free, one-hour webinar. Bring your questions and reflect on how the CIR might affect the immigration services your agency provides. 

Held on April 19, 2013.

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Templates for CIR Fundraising

Back to CLINIC's CIR Resource Page


Proposal Narrative - This document is designed to provide you with a template that can be used when applying for immigration funding, specifically in preparing your local community for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR).  It outlines the Need and Approach to position your agency as the lead in preparing your community for CIR.  Objectives and outcomes are included along with guidelines for an organizational capability statement.  The appendix contains useful resources.

Work Plan - This is an Excel sheet that details the activities and a timeline associated with the objectives in the proposal narrative.

Budget Narrative -  Set up as a Word document, this narrative details the personnel and non-personnel costs to consider as you develop your plan and write your proposal.

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Preparation Checklist for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR)

Back to CLINIC's CIR Resource Page


This initial checklist can be used to start preparing your program for CIR.  The action items are divided into categories of leadership, infrastructure, BIA recognition and accreditation, financial, community education, partnerships, and volunteers.  This resource will help your program organize and assign tasks as you get ready for CIR.

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Citizenship for Elders: Issues and Options in Test Preparation, 2nd Edition (2012)

Citizenship for Elders is a unique handbook for teachers and administrators on creating and managing a citizenship program for the older learner.  This handbook brings together the observations and insights of teachers from across the country on older learners from a wide range of cultures.  It is based on a nationwide survey of 200 programs.  It identifies the issues in teaching elders and makes recommendations for instruction and program design.  The recommendations are practice-based, with a focus on innovative and promising practices.  The suggestions on learning activities, cultural considerations for the classroom, and strategies to address common health issues will be particularly helpful to teachers.  CLINIC hopes this free handbook will help service providers strengthen their programs and assist many more elders to secure their future in the U.S. by becoming citizens.<--break->


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Template for Applying for Immigration Funding

The documents below are designed to provide you with a template that can be used when applying for immigration funding, specifically in preparing your local community for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR).  It can also be adapted for other immigration-related funding prior to CIR.

This template has several sections. It outlines the Need and Approach to positioning your agency as the lead in preparing your community for CIR. Objectives and outcomes are included.  A separate Excel sheet Workplan details activities and a timeline associated with the objectives.  Guidelines are also provided for an organizational capability statement. The attachments contain resources that you may find useful.

*To better understand, other programmatic needs and changes related to Comprehensive Immigration Reform, please review CLINIC's publication Preparing for Comprehensive Immigration Reform: An Earned Pathway to Citizenship and Beyond.
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Preparing for Comprehensive Immigration Reform: An Earned Pathway to Citizenship & Beyond

CLINIC has updated its 2006 Legalization Manual.

The manual, Preparing for Comprehensive Immigration Reform: An Earned Pathway to Citizenship and Beyond offers recommendations from “veterans” of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA).   The manual was created to help charitable immigration agencies increase program capacity and prepare for a large increase in the number of people needing immigration services. Its recommendations are offered to spur thinking and planning by these programs. As IRCA taught us, a “one size fits all” approach cannot succeed since the needs and circumstances of programs vary. It is hoped that the manual will enable programs to develop the policies and practices that are best suited to the circumstances of their programs and communities.

This manual is not intended to be used to create immigration legal service programs. For those interested in learning how to start an immigration legal service program, please refer to Immigration Management: Building Blocks for a Successful Program (“Immigration Management”) by CLINIC, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), and Immigration and Refugee Services of America.

Preparing for Comprehensive Immigration Reform: An Earned Parthway to Citizenship and Beyond begins with a summary or check list of recommendations. It then provides an extensive narrative that elaborates on these recommendations. 

To download the entire manual, click here.


CLINIC has developed a proposal document to help its affiliates apply for funding related to immigration and specifically Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR).  To view these documents, please log in and click on the links below.

Proposal Template

Worksheet - Objectives, Activities and Timeline

Help Educate Catholics on Immigration Issues

On May 10, 2005, the U.S. Catholic Bishops launched the Justice for Immigrants (JFI) Campaign in an effort to educate Catholics, including Catholic public officials, and other people of good will, about Catholic social teaching concerning immigrants.  The goals of the Campaign are to raise the awareness about the positive contributions of immigrants to our society and to advocate for changes in immigration law.  Congress should provide an orderly and safe pathway for undocumented people to integrate into our society.

We need your help to educate Catholics and others of good will about Catholic social teaching with respect to immigrants.  Please help us change hearts and minds by spreading what we teach: 

  • No person is a criminal in the eyes of God merely for being undocumented.  No good Samaritan should ever be considered a criminal for providing humanitarian assistance to another person in need.
  • All people regardless of their immigration status deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • The Catholic Church does not support illegal immigration.  It respects a nation’s sovereign right to control its borders for the common good.  If the laws that control the border do not serve the common good, then they are not fair and just.
  • Catholic social teaching instructs us that people have a responsibility to care for their families.  People have a right to live in their own country.  Yet, if society prevents them from caring for their families due to poverty or other circumstances, then they have a right to migrate to support their family.  If our economy needs these workers to fill jobs that Americans will not take, a fair and just law would allow them to enter legally.
  • People do not want to migrate illegally.  People would migrate legally if they could.
  • Catholics make up 23 percent of the U.S. population.  We are an immigrant nation and an immigrant church.  Immigrants are a positive force for our country.

The JFI Campaign needs your help to raise the awareness among Catholics.  They must see the human face of undocumented immigration and recognize the positive contributions that immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, make to our country.

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At-Risk Reports

In 2000-2001, CLINIC published a series of reports on immigration issues based on numerous case studies. These are not current reports.

The reports identify, track, and examine the impact of our nation's laws and immigration policies on at-risk immigrants. They illustrate particularly compelling problems faced by immigrants, clear explanations of the law at the root of such problems, and other research.

To order hardcopies of these reports, please complete this form and mail a $10 check or money order to CLINIC, 415 Michigan Ave. NE, Suite 200, Washington DC 20017.