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Staff Attorney, LGBTQ Project

Website Heartland Alliance

Heartland Alliance works to advance human rights

National Immigrant Justice Center
Staff Attorney, LGBTQ Project

Program Description:

The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) advances human rights and due process for immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers through direct legal services, impact litigation, advocacy and public education. Headquartered in Chicago with offices in Washington, DC, Indiana and San Diego, NIJC’s team of more than 100 attorneys, paralegals and professionals, along with 2,000 pro bono attorneys, is at the forefront of immigration reform.



The National Immigrant Justice Center’s LGBTQ Immigrant Rights Initiative provides comprehensive representation to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) immigrants and asylum seekers as well as to those living with HIV/AIDS. With the support of pro bono attorneys, the project (1) represents immigrants and asylum seekers before United States Citizenship & Immigration Services, the Immigration Courts (primarily in Chicago), the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the U.S. Courts of Appeals, (2) advocates for improvements in conditions for detained LGBT asylum seekers, and (3) collaborates with members of local and national immigrant and LGBTQ advocacy groups to raise awareness of the issues facing the LGBTQ immigrant population.

NIJC seeks a staff attorney who would participate in all areas of the LGBTQ Immigrant Rights Initiative’s work, with a particular focus on direct representation and pro bono attorney support of detained LGBTQ asylum seekers coming in from the Tijuana area into the San Diego area. This position with NIJC’s LGBTQ Immigrant Rights Initiative is part of a program with partner organizations to address the needs of LGBTQ individuals at the border.

Individual accountabilities and work volume will be established through the development of annual Success Objectives, within the framework outlined below.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

Provide Individual Representation: The staff attorney will be responsible for handling cases before both USCIS and the Immigration Courts. Case types will likely include requests for: asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture; U visas; cancellation of removal; and permanent residency. Because many of the Project’s clients are detained, representation will also include appearing at bond hearings and filing administrative release requests.

Screen Potential Cases: The staff attorney will interview potential clients and analyze cases to discern eligibility for immigration benefits. They will also review transcripts and administrative records and make recommendations regarding appellate representation for LGBTQ individuals. All decisions to accept cases will be made at weekly project meetings in conjunction with supervising staff.
Conduct Legal Research: The staff attorney will conduct research on legal issues as well as country conditions for LGBT individuals abroad. This research will be used both in individual cases and to support potential impact litigation and policy advocacy.

Monitor Detention Conditions: The staff attorney will work to improve access to legal support for LGBTQ immigrants and asylum seekers who are detained in facilities across the country. The attorney will identify locations where detained immigrants are held and work with local officials and non-profit organizations to ensure that LGBTQ individuals are informed of their legal rights. The attorney will also monitor conditions for LGBTQ individuals in these facilities and may file administrative complaints with the Department of Homeland Security to address human rights violations in detention.

Advise Pro Bono Attorneys: Because the LGBT Immigrant Rights Initiative handles many cases with assistance from pro bono attorneys possessing limited immigration expertise, the staff attorney must be able to advise counsel about the law and process of representing individuals in immigration proceedings.

Other duties may be assigned.


To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Education and Experience: Law degree from ABA accredited law school; law license; at least one year of experience in immigration law and/or refugee law; experience in immigration court and/or federal court.

Languages: Fluency in Spanish is required.

Collaboration: This position involves working closely with partner organizations. The staff attorney must be an excellent communicator and a team player.

Other Qualifications: Excellent writing, editing, organizational, analytical, administrative, and computer skills required. Ability to manage multiple tasks efficiently and perform well under strict deadlines. Because the attorney will work with detainees in remote facilities, an applicant who is licensed and able to drive is preferred.

Physical Demands:

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to use hands to finger, handle, or feel and talk and hear.
The employee is frequently required to reach with hands and arms.
The employee is occasionally required to stand; walk; sit; climb or balance; and stoop or kneel.
The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 10 pounds.

Work Environment:

The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.

Heartland Alliance makes all hiring and employment decisions, and operates all programs, services, and functions without regard to race, receipt of an order of protection, creed, color, age, gender, gender identity, marital or parental status, religion, ancestry, national origin, amnesty, physical or mental disability, protected veterans status, genetic information, sexual orientation, immigrant status, political affiliation or belief, use of FMLA, VESSA, military, and family military rights, ex-offender status (depending on the offense and position to be filled), unfavorable military discharge, membership in an organization whose primary purpose is the protection of civil rights or improvement of living conditions and human relations, height, weight, or HIV infection, in accord with the organization’s AIDS Policy Statement of September 1987

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