Movement Lawyers in the Fight for Immigrant Rights

45 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2017 Last revised: 28 Feb 2018

See all articles by Sameer M. Ashar

Sameer M. Ashar

University of California, Irvine School of Law

Date Written: November 29, 2017


As immigration reform initiatives driven by established advocacy organizations in Washington, D.C. were successively defeated in the mid-to-late 2000s, movement-centered organizations and newly created formations of undocumented youth mobilized against the federal-local immigration enforcement regime of the Bush and Obama administrations. This mobilization included a mix of community organizing, litigation, policy and media advocacy, and direct action tactics. Lawyers supported movement-centered social change campaigns as counsel to existing organizations and to the undocumented youth groups that grew, evolved, and multiplied during this period. Drawing on media, scholarly, and first person accounts, this Article describes the campaigns that constituted the anti-enforcement mobilization between 2009 and 2012, with particular focus on the range of roles played by lawyers and the implications of that repertoire in theorizing about resistance to legality and the place of law and lawyering in social movement activism.

Suggested Citation

Ashar, Sameer M., Movement Lawyers in the Fight for Immigrant Rights (November 29, 2017). 64 UCLA Law Review 1464, 2017 , UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2017-60, Available at SSRN:

Sameer M. Ashar (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

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