The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is the national association of more than 16,000 attorneys and law professors who practice and teach immigration law. AILA member attorneys represent U.S. families seeking permanent residence for close family members, as well as U.S. businesses seeking talent from the global marketplace. AILA members also represent foreign students, entertainers, athletes, and asylum seekers, often on a pro bono basis. Founded in 1946, AILA is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that provides continuing legal education, information, professional services, and expertise through its 39 chapters and over 50 national committees.

AILA's Mission

The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Strategic Goals

  1. Increase member participation in advocacy before Congress, the Judiciary, the Federal Agencies, and the media, for immigration-related interests of our clients and society.

    • Educate the public about the ways in which U.S. immigration law and policy serves the national interest by reuniting American families, protecting refugees, and providing U.S. employers with the specialized skills they need to remain globally competitive.
    • Enhance respect for immigration law, and professional recognition of immigration lawyers, by government, the bar, and society.
    • Support American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center and educational programming.
  2. Increase the level of knowledge and professionalism, and foster the professional responsibility, of our members.

    • Enhance the litigation capabilities of the membership as an important option to ensure the just administration of our immigration laws.
    • Assist members in effectively and competently pursuing their law practice and enhancing their professional satisfaction.
    • Advance the protection of the public by promoting consumer protection and authorized representation.
    • Promote and support delivery of competent, ethical, and lawful immigration services by lawyers, authorized accredited representatives, and pro bono programs.
    • Encourage and facilitate member participation in, and support for, pro bono services and programs.

How It All Began

Josh Koenigsberg looked upon the rise in the number of immigration practitioners with the influx of such a select group of former government employees as an omen. It was an opportunity to organize into a bar association and utilize the professional standing of this new group as a springboard from which to elevate the standard and reputation of the practitioner appearing before the Immigration Service as counsel for the alien.

Josh called a meeting at his office, then located at 15 Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan, which was attended by 19 people including himself. Twelve of them were recently discharged Immigration Service lawyers, including Joseph Blank, Edward Dubroff, William Gurock, Gustav Lazarus, Harry Meizel, George Moerman, Morris Solomon, Anita Streep, Max Wolofsky, Morris Vogel, Jacob Kweller, and Arthur Schapira; the six others were old-timers, Sebastian Caputi, Gaspare M. Cusumanno, Jacob W. Rozinsky, Minerva Salzman, Haskell Barst, and Nathan Sinkman. All agreed with the purpose of which the meeting was called, and the drafting of a certification of incorporation under the Membership Corporation Laws of the State of New York began.

The certification of incorporation was filed on November 22, 1946. The certificate provided for a board of directors of not less than seven, nor more than 25, and named 17 directors until the first annual meeting, namely Joseph Blank, Haskell Barst, Sebastian Caputi, Gaspare Cusumano, Edward Dubroff, William Gurock, Josh Koenisberg, Gustav Lazarus, Harry Meizel, George Moerman, Jacob Rozinsky, Minerva Salzman, Arthur Schapira, Nathan Sinkman, Morris Solomon, Anita Streep, and Max Wolofsky.

The purpose of the association, framed after careful and meaningful consideration and discussion reads:

  • To cultivate the science of jurisprudence; promote reforms in the law; facilitate the administration of justice; elevate the standard of integrity, honor and courtesy in the legal profession; cherish the spirit of brotherhood among the members thereof; and

  • To advance the science of the administration of law pertaining to immigration, nationality and naturalization; promote reforms in the law with regard thereto; facilitating the administration of justice thereunder, and elevating the standard of integrity, honor and courtesy of those appearing in a representative capacity in immigration, nationality and naturalization matters.

The second clause is the product of the distasteful and disagreeable conditions with which immigration attorneys were confronted in their appearances before the various branches of the Service. The need to promote the just administration of law pertaining to immigration and nationality matters was felt deeply. There was a need to reform and to improve the administration of the immigration laws and, above all, to improve and develop a higher degree of courtesy and respect for the legal representatives of aliens appearing before the Service.

On the filing of the certificate of incorporation, election of officers was held. To Josh Koenigsberg-the founding father-went the honor of being elected as first present, and to Anita Streep, the mantle of secretary of the association. The office of vice present went to Gaspare Cusumano, and that of treasurer to Daniel Caputi.

From AILA's Sixty Years of Service… Sixty Years of Excellence pamphlet

Looking Back…

AILA’s 60th Anniversary Video

AILA’s 70th Anniversary Video

AILA’s 75th Anniversary Video