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The National Immigrant Justice Center's 20th Annual Human Rights Awards was truly an historic celebration of immigrants and leaders in our communities. More than 1,000 attendees and sponsors came together to raise over $1.2 million for life-changing legal services for immigrants, making this the most successful Human Rights Awards ever!

Program booklet on table
Photo credit: Lisa Kpor via Twitter

Several immigrants and former clients of NIJC told their stories, culminating with the powerful story of Julissa Arce, immigrant rights advocate, best-selling author, and former Wall Street executive who was formerly undocumented. We were also joined by very special guest and former co-chair of the Human Rights Awards, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot with Julissa Arce
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot with featured storyteller, Julissa Arce, at the 20th Annual NIJC Human Rights Awards

We honored the incredible work of Margaret Balsley-Cross, pro bono attorney who has established, led, and attended dozens of legal clinics with NIJC over the past 12 years; Kirkland & Ellis LLP, pro bono partner whose attorneys have represented immigrants in more than 450 cases with NIJC and currently are litigating a nation-wide class action to defend immigrant children who were unlawfully transferred to adult jails on their 18th birthdays; and Interfaith Community for Detained Immigrants, a nonprofit that responds to communities affected by immigration detention, deportation, and post-detention, including through providing critical housing and support services to countless NIJC clients and families cruelly separated at the border by the U.S. government. We presented 10 associate or junior-level pro bono attorneys with the 2019 Rising Star Awards for their extraordinary commitment to ensuring access to justice for immigrants.

See highlights posted on social media during the event below!

Julia Toepfer is the marketing and online engagement manager at the National Immigrant Justice Center.