American Immigration Lawyers Association

Southern California Chapter

Founded in 1946, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is a national bar association of attorneys who practice and teach immigration law. AILA Member attorneys represent tens of thousands of U.S. businesses and industries, foreign students, entertainers, athletes, and asylum seekers, often on a pro bono basis. AILA is an Affiliated Organization of the American Bar Association. 

The Southern California Chapter represents over 1050 member attorneys in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura Counties. Our chapter maintains close contact with the government officials who have an important impact on our clients' lives. Chapter meetings feature prominent guest speakers from the Departments of Homeland Security, State, Justice, and Labor, and the Chapter is active in liaison and advocacy efforts. We are happy to share the latest updates with AILA members nationwide.

Executive Board 2017/2018 Term


Chair: Blake Miller, Esq. of Fragomen Worldwide (Irvine)

Vice Chair: Tiffany Chang Wu, Esq. of  Fragomen Worldwide (Irvine)

Treasurer:  Scott Emerick, Esq. of Law Office of Ally Bolour (Los Angeles)

Secretary: Todd Becraft, Esq. of Law Office of Todd Becraft (Los Angeles)

Visit our Officers page for contact information.


AILA California Chapters Conference - HOLLYWOOD (Nov. 9 - 11, 2017)

The AILA California Chapter's Conference registration is here! The conference will be in our hometown at the Loews Hollywood Hotel, from November 9th - November 11th! There are so many hot-topics right now in immigration and the committee (led by immediate SoCal past-president Maggie Castillo!) did a fantastic job putting together panels that will hit on everything. 


Registration is now open for the 30th Annual AILA California Chapters Conference!

AILA Annual Conference in San Francisco, CA (June 13-16, 2018)

Please join us in San Francisco, CA, for the 2018 AILA Annual Conference on Immigration Law. The conference had been set for Grapevine, TX, but in June 2016, AILA's Board of Governors voted to move the conference after weighing the potential impact of SB 4. The AILA Annual Conference takes place over the course of three and a half days and is the largest annual gathering of immigration lawyers and legal professionals in the United States.

Looking for the 2017 AILA Annual Conference recordings? You can purchase them on AILA Agora. Choose from select sessions, topical tracks, or the entire conference. The full set of recordings is available with and without CLE.

State and National Advocacy

AILA Southern California has weighed in on several proposed bills both on the State and Federal level.  Please click on the links below to see our advocacy efforts and to see the most up to date legislative information relating to newly proposed immigration bills:

As of January 8, 2016

ICE Enforcement Operations Notice to the Public - Spanish Version

ICE Enforcement Operations Notice to the Public - English Version

As of January 5, 2016

Opposition to Senate Joint Resolution 17

As of September 4, 2015

Letter in Opposition to House Resolution 3009 "Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act"

Letter in Opposition to State Bill 417 Law Enforcement: United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Holds

Letters in Support:

AB-899 Juveniles: Confidentiality of Records:  This bill ensures that juvenile court records should remain confidential regardless of the juveniles' immigration status.  The bill was signed into law by Governor Brown on September 4, 2015.  The law goes into effect January 1, 2016.

AB-900 Juveniles: Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS).  This proposed bill extends probate jurisdiction from age 18 to age 21 for children that are requesting relief under the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.  In so doing, this bill ensures that California law will comport with the Federal standards for the vulnerable population of children who qualify for SIJS.  This bill is pending a final concurrence vote before heading to the Governor for final consideration.

SB-674 Victims of Crime - Nonimmigrant Status:

Making it easier for crime victims to be able to obtain Form I-918 Supplement A, signed by a law enforcement official, which a vital requirement in obtaining a "U Visa" as a victim of a crime.  Among other provisions, this bill establishes the "rebuttable presumption" that the victim of a crime has assisted in the persecution.  This bill is headed to the governor for final consideration.

AB 1351 Deferred Entry of Judgement, Pretrial Diversion

This bill would make the deferred entry of judgement program a pretrial diversion program. If the defendant qualifies for the program in the first place, s/he would enter a not guilty plea and, upon successful completion of the program, the criminal charges will be dismissed.

AB 1352 Deferred Entry of Judgement, Withdrawal of Plea

This bill would require the court to allow a defendant who was granted deferred entry of judgement on or after January 1, 1997, who has preformed satisfactorily during the period in which deferred entry of judgement  was granted, to withdraw the plea, enter a plea of not guilty and require the court to dismiss the complaint or information against the defendant.

Family Detention Pro Bono Project

AILA National is calling for volunteers attorneys and Spanish-speaking interpreters to donate their time in Dilley, Texas to represent undocumented women and children who are being housed in family detention.

Each individual who is willing to volunteer will make an immense change in the lives of the people they are helping.

The greatest need for volunteers are for the weeks of July 5th, July 19th, July 26th and August 2nd. If you are able to volunteer, please visit Please contact or Maheen Taqui, or Susan Timmons Marks at AILA National.

Breaking News 3.10.2015

Immigration Lawyers Protect Vulnerable Immigrants by Opposing AB60 in California Legislature

LOS ANGELES, CA- The Southern California chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) filed a formal opposition to AB60, the amendment to AB1159, a measure that would bar immigration lawyers from performing any background and preparation work for immigrants seeking advice on whether they qualify for President Obama's executive actions of DAPA and DACA. This legislation, which has the intent of protecting immigrants, does the exact opposite. It is overly broad and ties immigration attorneys' hands from being able to charge for even standard support services connected with reform measures including background checks, analyzing filings, requesting copies of files from the government after immigration consultants and notarios have not kept files or have so screwed up client cases that they have disappeared. We, as an organization, are worried about the negative impact this measure will have on the immigrant community, who are now pointed in the direction of scammers and unlicensed consultants who are not lawyers, have no bar to regulate their actions or inactions, and put many immigrants at risk of being deported and end up shattering families lives. Read our copy of our filed opposition to this bill.  
Press Release 11.21.2014 

Immigration Lawyers Welcome President's Action, Caution Community Against Scammers

LOS ANGELES, CA- The Southern California chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) welcomed President Obama's executive action which will offer some protections for vulnerable members of the community.
"This plan is a long time in coming," said AILA Chapter Chair Heather L. Poole. She continued, "As immigration attorneys, we see the results of our broken system every day and in the absence of Congressional action, the President had to act. While a lot of the details are still waiting to be filled in, we know that many of these changes will make a real impact.” . . . . 
Included in the far-ranging plan are some key items:
• Deferred Action for the parents of U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children who have no criminal background and have been residing in the US for at least five years. This new measure would provide temporary relief from removal for these individuals - keeping families together and providing work authorization that will lead to more taxes being paid and a boost to the local and national economy.
• Expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to remove the age cap and move the continuous presence date up to January 1, 2010. DACA will now be granted for 3 years (including those with pending renewal applications).
• Allowing spouses and children of lawful permanent residents to apply for unlawful presence waivers from within the U.S. and ensuring appropriate standards for adjudicating those waivers.
• Enabling families of individuals trying to enlist in the armed forces to utilize parole in place to ensure legal status.
• Changing the procedures for adjustment of status to allow legal immigrants caught in the immigration quota backlogs to register their applications and thus begin the final step of the process.
The chapter is extremely concerned that many immigrants will be taken advantage of by notarios and unlicensed operators – immigration consultants, document preparers, and paralegals who see a money-making opportunity, despite the potential damage that can be done by giving the wrong legal advice and taking money out of the pockets of the most vulnerable when no relief is available.
Chapter Chair Heather L. Poole concluded, “As lawyers, we see the havoc wreaked by unlicensed notarios and immigration consultants who are practicing law without a license. Immigration law is a lot more complicated than the public thinks – it’s not about just filling out forms. Immigration law is unforgiving – one small mistake and your chances of relief can be destroyed forever. Stay away from these individuals and watch out for scams. The reality is that no new application forms are available yet and the guidelines that will determine eligibility are not yet finalized. There is nothing to apply for yet. Watch out for scammers who promise eligibility now. Don't let someone ruin your chances for possible benefit; seek qualified counsel for these important decisions."
Read the Entire Press Release Here


Breaking News:

 So Ca AILA Addresses Due Process Violations in 
Immigration Court Hearing Notifications 


 Breaking News:

So Ca AILA Teams with LA County Bar's Legal Assistance Project to Host Training for Pro Bono Attorneys Willing to Assist Unaccompanied Minors in Humanitarian Crisis 
In this packed training, AILA and LACBA volunteer attorneys will be trained on potential remedies available to Unaccompanied Children who have fled from their home country in this humanitarian crisis.The training, set for Friday, August 1, 2014 at LACBA's Headquarters in Los Angeles, is currently at max capacity. We encourage future volunteer attorneys to attend Catholic Charities - Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project's  Upcoming Asylum training set for August 15th
Press Release by  President pro Tem of the CA State Senate Darrell Steinberg's office about the training
For any other questions about volunteering, please contact us at

Benefits to So Ca AILA Membership

  • Monthly Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Programs for Immigration Lawyers on Cutting Edge Developments

  • Free Introductory CLE Programs for New Members and Those New to Immigration Law 

  • Access to Liaisons for Inquiries on Problem Cases (for a variety of areas including CIS Service Centers, CIS Field and Asylum Offices, Customs & Border Protection, ICE, and the Immigration Courts) 
  • Social Events: Receptions, Ski CLE Conference (the only one in AILA!)
  • Benefits for Future Lawyers - AILA Law MembersExposure to Immigration Practice and Employers 

  • Benefits for your downtime: Glen Ivy Massage Discounts, City Club of Los Angeles Special Membership Rates, and more!
  • AILA National Day of Action in Washington DC, 2016: Merlyn Hernandez, Genevieve Kovacs Perez and Maggie Castillo.
    AILA National Day of Action in Washington DC, 2016: Merlyn Hernandez, Genevieve Kovacs Perez and Maggie Castillo.
    State of the District
    "The State of the District" Meeting with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Los Angeles Field Office, an annual meeting with all the local CIS offices for our local AILA members
    Chirla Fundraiser 2013
    CHIRLA 2013 Fundraiser: Past Chair Cynthia Lucas with Robert Jacobs, Esq., an AILA member, and his spouse. AILA So Ca is an active part of the local community, often sponsoring fundraisers to promote immigration assistance to low-income or under-served communities.