Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law



Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law

"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those  

            who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."       
- Franklin D. Roosevelt                          

   photo    photo


Welcome to the young_girlCenter for Human Rights & Constitutional Law. The Center is a non-profit, public interest legal foundation dedicated to furthering and protecting the civil, constitutional, and human rights of immigrants, refugees, children, prisoners, and the poor.

Since its incorporation in 1980, under the leadership of a board of directors comprising civil rights attorneys, community advocates and religious leaders, the Center has provided a wide range of legal services to vulnerable low-income victims of human and civil rights violations and technical support and training to hundreds of legal aid attorneys and paralegals in the areas of immigration law, constitutional law, and complex and class action litigation.

The Center has achieved major victories in numerous major cases in the courts of the United States and before international bodies that have directly benefited hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged persons.



  • DAPA Expanded DACA - April 15, 2015

President Obama has tried his hand at administrative reform primarily by issuing two programs to give some immigrants temporary “deferred action status” and work permits for two to three years if they have U.S. citizen children and have resided here since January 2010 (DAPA), or if they were brought here as children (DACA and expanded DACA).

For now, implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA has been blocked by the federal courts, primarily because the DHS failed to publish DAPA/expanded DACA as “proposed regulations,” and give the public 30 days to comment before implementing the directives as agency regulations.

There are several critically important steps analyzed in the attached report (view or download here) President Obama could take to better protect DACA recipients and potential DAPA recipients. 

At a town hall meeting in Miami on February 25, 2015, the President announced that he would not be deterred by “one federal judge” (i.e. federal district court Judge Andrew S. Hanen in Texas who has enjoined the DAPA/ expanded DACA programs). He told the crowd that his administration will become “even more aggressive in the weeks and months to come … We’re going to be as aggressive as we can.” 

     Unfortunately, the Administration decided to issue DAPA/DACA as a “policy” (basically a “privilege” for applicants) that can be changed overnight by any future Administration, rather than as a formal “regulation” (also called a “substantive rule”) that extends real rights to applicants and cannot be cancelled overnight. Under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), a federal agency must first publish a substantive rule in “proposed” (draft) form and the public must be given 30 days to comment before the regulation is finally adopted. The Administration’s refusal to issue DAPA/DACA as a DHS “regulation” has negative legal and practical consequences for millions of potential applicants.

 If President Obama published DAPA/DACA as a formal regulation: (1) the legal basis for the current injunction blocking DAPA/expanded DACA would be wiped out without risking lengthy appeals, (2) DAPA/DACA would become a “substantive right” instead of a “privilege” giving applicants and recipients stronger enforceable legal rights, (3) a formal regulation will make it more difficult for a future Administration, without advance notice or the public’s opportunity to comment, to terminate the DAPA/DACA programs (and to place DAPA/DACA recipients in deportation proceedings), and(4) in proposed regulations the Administration could include statements and rules that would substantially decrease the strength of the States' constitutional challenge to DAPA/expanded DACA. 

The full report explaining the status of the Texas v. United States litigation may be viewed or downloaded by selecting this link.
  • House Democrats Call for End of Family Detention - An overwhelming majority of Democrats in the House, including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) – sent Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson a letter saying the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “has not fully grasped the serious harm being inflicted upon mothers and children” who are being held in “jail-like” secure facilities awaiting adjudication of their asylum and immigration cases.  “We believe the only solution to this problem is to end the use of family detention,” the letter states.  “Children require special protections and should not be placed in jail-like settings.” Click here to read the letter.
  • No Summer Immigration Surge, Officials Say - April 23, 2015
    There won’t be nearly as many immigrant children who cross the border on their own this summer, as there were last year, top officials say. Read More
  • NY advocates, legislators push for further restrictions on prison solitary confinement - April 23, 2015

Advocates and some New York legislators on Wednesday called for restricting solitary confinement for state inmates, citing a United Nations expert's conclusion that more than 15 days' isolation damages people mentally. Read More

  • Comprehensive White House Immigration Reform: President Obama is Missing the Boat and Leaving Millions of Immigrants Stranded - April 15, 2015

This report argues that President Obama's immigration reform ship is sinking, but has not yet sunk. The report demonstrates step by step how President Obama can quickly correct the situation and achieve major immigration reform, helping millions of immigrants, with no action needed by Congress. The full report may be viewed or downloaded here. Here is the brief summary of the recommendations:

To protect immigrants' rights under DAPA/DACA, and to overcome the primary reason for the injunction now blocking DAPA/expanded DACA, President Obama should promptly issue formal regulations on DAPA/DACA.

President Obama should adopt regulations allowing all immigrants eligible for family or employment----based visas under existing law, and the parents of DACA recipients, to apply for and be granted "advance parole" (permission to travel abroad and return to the U.S.) for personal or business purposes allowing about two million immigrants to become eligible for adjustment of status.

President Obama should immediately reverse his policy of detaining Central American "mothers" and their children in response to the temporary 2014 "surge" in Central American minors entering the U.S.

The Administration should promptly adopt regulations allowing tens of thousands of Central Americans and Haitians who have been residing continuously in the U.S. for over 25 years on Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to obtain lawful permanent resident status.

President Obama should modify the terms of the recently issued Priorities Enforcement Program (PEP) (involving "priorities" for deportation) and adopt the policy as a formal regulation. Immigrants who are not security threats or have not been convicted of serious crimes should be granted "stays of deportation" until the Administration has eliminated the backlog of cases involving national security threats and serious criminal convictions.

President Obama should promptly adopt regulations to increase the number of immigrants granted "waivers" of inadmissibility allowing thousands of immigrants with minor convictions or illegal re-entries to now legalize their immigration status.

The full report may be viewed or downloaded here.

  • UPDATE: The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law and co-counsel petition federal court to halt en masse detention of immigrant children apprehended with their mothers

The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law and several co-counsel for detained immigrant mothers and children have filed a motion in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles challenging the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) “no-release” policy for immigrant children apprehended with their mothers. Over 1,000 mothers and children are detained in camps in Karnes City, Texas, Dilley, Texas, and Leesport, Pennsylvania. Read Full Release

Also available to download:

  1. Plaintiffs’ Memorandum in Support of Motion to Enforce the Flores Settlement of Class Action (Feb. 2, 2015)
  2. The Government's Motion to Modify the Settlement Agreement (Feb. 27, 2015)
  3. The Government's Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion to Enforce the Flores Settlement (Feb. 27, 2015)
  4. The Flores Settlement, Case # CV-85-4544 (C.D. Cal. 1997)

Current Work and Areas of Expertise
The Center is a legal services support center with recognized expertise in complex litigation, constitutional law, and laws targeting vulnerable insular populations including immigrants, refugees, at-risk children, survivors of domestic violence, prisoners in solitary confinement, and member of LGBT communities. A partial list of the Center's major litigation includes the following cases: Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982) (lead counsel for state-wide class of undocumented children denied access to public elementary education because of their immigration status); Reno v. Catholic Social Services, 509 U.S. 43 (1993) (national class action on behalf of persons unlawfully denied legalization under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986); Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 292 (1993) (national class action on behalf of children denied release on bail pending the outcome of deportation proceedings); League of United Latin American Citizens v. Wilson, 131 F. 3d 1297 (9th Cir. 1997)(state-wide class action challenging on due process, equal protection and premption grounds the constitutionality of a voter-approved state Proposition denying health care, social services and education to suspected undocumented children and adults); and Orantes-Hernandez v. Smith, 541 F.Supp. 351 (C.D. Cal. 1982) (national class of Salvadoran nationals seeking political asylum in the United States).

Read about our legal support services here.

Refugee Interdiction