Position Summary

Centro Legal’s immigration practice encompasses full-scope direct representation before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), including the Immigration Courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA); in affirmative applications filed with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); in federal district court (e.g., in habeas corpus actions); and before the federal courts of appeals. Centro Legal has served as both class counsel and organizational plaintiffs in impact litigation mounting constitutional, statutory and administrative law challenges to immigration policies.

Centro Legal’s Abolishing Immigration Detention (“AID”) team, which sits within the Immigrants’ Rights Project, primarily specializes in detained removal defense, the intersection of immigration and criminal law, and immigration detention issues. We works to dismantle racist and inequitable policies at the intersection of the criminal and immigration legal systems through high-quality direct legal services, community empowerment and know-your-rights education, litigation, and state, local and national advocacy. We believe that working to uplift the demands of the highly marginalized and criminalized people in detention—including Black migrants, people with disabilities, and queer and transgender individuals—holds the key to our collective liberation. Finally, we are committed to building a diverse team that reflects the values and experiences of the communities we serve. We strive to create an inclusive and supportive work environment that rejects the same harmful dynamics of power oppression we fight in the immigration system. We operate using collective decision making, and collaborate heavily with one another in both our casework and advocacy efforts.

Primary Responsibilities

Centro Legal is seeking an attorney with significant experience in detained removal defense to lead the AID team. Primary duties will include:

  • Facilitate team discussions to periodically revisit programmatic goals to ensure all representation, litigation, advocacy, and community empowerment efforts connect to broader goal of abolishing immigration detention;
  • Assist with identifying new funding opportunities and develop relationships with current funders; Work with management and development teams to educate funders about the impact of our detention-related work; Advocate for funding that supports the on-the-grounds needs of people in detention and allows us to respond in real time to changes in immigration law and policy;
  • Help hold team accountable to principles of collective decision-making, community and movement lawyering;
  • Directly represent individuals—primarily detained—in bond, removal, credible fear review, and reasonable fear review proceedings before the San Francisco, N. Los Angeles, and Van Nuys Immigration Courts (and other Immigration Courts as necessary); Litigate appeals before the BIA, Petitions for Review before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and habeas corpus proceedings in federal district court.
  • Supervise, mentor, and support the ongoing professional development for attorneys and non- attorney advocates;
  • Conduct telephonic (and, as the COVID-19 pandemic permits, in-person) intakes with detained individuals, principally at the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility, the Golden State Annex, and Yuba County Jail, and possibly other detention centers; Working with the team, propose and assess cases for possible representation.
  • Develop and deliver virtual (and, as the COVID-19 pandemic permits, in-person) Know-Your-Rights presentations to detained and non-detained community members; Participate in remote (and, as the COVID-19 pandemic permits, on-site) legal clinics offering legal consultations for non-detained community members.
  • In collaboration with local, regional, and national partners, work with team to develop strategy for public advocacy and media campaigns to advance clients’ interests and national, state and local policy changes that advance our abolitionist vision.
  • Together with team, identify, vet and propose potential federal litigation opportunities; assist in impact litigation efforts in federal courts as necessary.
  • Assist in determining appropriate case stories for use in reports, advocacy materials, and public education; provide expert testimony to media on current immigration law and policy topics.


First and foremost, the applicant must profoundly share Centro Legal’s mission and vision of social justice. Qualifications include:

  • D; admitted and in good standing with a State bar;
  • Working proficiency in Spanish;
  • Minimum of 5 years of experience in removal defense, including 3 on behalf of detained individuals and/or individuals with criminal convictions;
  • Strong leadership skills and experience managing other attorneys and staff;
  • Excellent writing, research, analytical, and verbal communication skills;
  • A demonstrated commitment to civil liberties, immigrant justice, and public interest law;
  • Demonstrated ability to work cooperatively on projects with other lawyers, advocates, and diverse community organizations;
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity within the office, a personal approach that values all individuals and respects differences regarding race, ethnicity, age, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, ability, socio-economic circumstance, immigration status, and record of arrest or conviction;
  • Familiarity in working with clients in crisis or who are recent trauma survivors; and
  • Willingness to conduct training and outreach activities in the community.

We would also prefer:

  • Experience with circuit court appeals and federal habeas litigation;
  • Experience working with individuals suffering from mental illness; and/or
  • Experience with post conviction relief.


Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience. We provide a generous benefits package, including life insurance, LTD, leave policies, vacation, and December holiday office closure at full pay.


To apply, please submit via email to jobs@centrolegal.org, with the subject line of “Immigrants’ Rights Managing Attorney – AID”: 1) a cover letter that sets forth the reasons you want to work at Centro Legal and believe you are a good fit for the position, 2) resume, and 3) a list of three professional references. We will review applications until the position is filled.


About Centro Legal de la Raza

Founded in 1969 and headquartered in Oakland, California, Centro Legal de la Raza (“Centro Legal”) is a comprehensive legal services and advocacy organization protecting and advancing the rights of immigrant and low-income communities of color through multilingual representation, education, and advocacy. We envision a world where all people enjoy dignity, respect and the freedom to move; where the most marginalized voices lead movements for change; where migration builds bridges; where communities remain together; where all families and youth find safety; and where racist carceral systems are abolished. We ground our work in principles of anti-racism, community and movement lawyering, and intersectionality.

For more information, visit our website: https://centrolegal.org/

To apply for this job email your details to jobs@centrolegal.org

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