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NIJC has a new Chicago address at 111 W. Jackson Blvd, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60604 and a new email domain at

Media Inquiries

Contact NIJC Communications Director Tara Tidwell Cullen at (312) 833-2967 or by email.

Marks 40th Anniversary Providing Immigration Legal Services and Advocating for Immigrant Justice 

The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC, NFP) announced today that it has relaunched as an independent 501(c)(3) organization to continue its mission of defending human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.

The organization was founded in 1984 by a group of Chicagoans who recognized the need for immigration legal services for migrants arriving to the city from Central America and Haiti. Originally known as the Midwest Immigrant Rights Center, the organization served about 82 people in its first year through a mostly volunteer network of 60 attorneys. Over the past 40 years, as a program of social services nonprofit Heartland Alliance, NIJC has expanded into a nationally recognized organization with offices in Chicago; Goshen and Indianapolis, Indiana; San Diego; and Washington, D.C. NIJC now has a staff of more than 160 professionals and a network of about 2,000 pro bono attorneys. In 2023, NIJC provided legal services and advocacy for more than 12,000 immigrants, including people seeking asylum, people in immigration detention, unaccompanied children, survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking, LGBTQ immigrants, and people who have lived in the United States for decades and are pursuing legal status to remain with their families and communities.

National Immigrant Justice Center logo

“As we celebrate NIJC’s 40th anniversary, we are excited about this transition to become an independent nonprofit organization which will continue to provide critical legal services and advocacy on behalf of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers,” said NIJC Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy. “Defending access to justice is of critical importance at this moment in U.S. history, including the urgent need to defend due process for immigrants seeking to rebuild their lives in our country and be part of our communities.”

NIJC and its pro bono attorneys have been on the vanguard of federal impact litigation and policy advocacy, setting positive precedents for people seeking protection within our borders and holding the U.S. government accountable for upholding human rights and due process for all immigrants.

As an independent organization with a new board of directors, NIJC will continue to focus on the organization’s decades-long mission, its committed and talented staff, and the diverse communities it serves.

“Over the past 40 years, NIJC has built a robust infrastructure that will allow us to carry on the critical mission of defending access to justice for immigrant communities,” said Chad Doobay, partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP and chair of NIJC’s new board of directors. “Our founding board members have all had a deep and long-term commitment to NIJC and its mission, and we are excited for this opportunity for the organization to have direct responsibility for its own operations, governance, and fiscal management.”

Accompanying today’s announcement was the introduction of NIJC’s first board of directors. In addition to Mr. Doobay, those members are: Sherene Awad Jodrey, Joan Coogan, Susan Fortino-Brown, Richard F. Klawiter, James A. Morsch, Abiman Rajadurai, Lee Ann Russo, John M. Skakun III, and Gretchen Wolf.

To learn more about NIJC’s mission and ongoing work, and to donate, visit