Immigration law

ACLU immigration lawyer is among genius grant winners

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A lawyer who seeks due process for immigrants facing deportation is among 23 winners of 2016 MacArthur “genius” grants.

Lawyer Ahilan Arulanantham, 43, will receive the no-strings attached $625,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. He is director of advocacy and legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

Other winners include a theater professor who uses storytelling to help those facing cognitive challenges, a bioengineering professor who invented a microscope that costs less than $1 to produce, and a financial services innovator who developed a model to evaluate credit for those with limited financial access. The Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) and the Washington Post have stories.

Arulanantham has litigated landmark cases that expanded immigrant detainees’ access to legal representation and limited government power to detain them indefinitely, according to the MacArthur Foundation website.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in one of his cases that immigrants facing deportation have a right to seek a bond hearing if they have been detained for six months or longer. The U.S. Supreme Court will consider the issue this year.

In another case, the 9th Circuit ruled this week that it didn’t have jurisdiction to rule in Arulanantham’s suit seeking court-appointed counsel for minors who are in deportation proceedings. Despite the outcome, a concurring opinion called on the president and Congress to address the “crisis” of unrepresented children in immigration proceedings.

Related articles: “9th Circuit rejects bid for lawyers for child immigrants but calls for a change in the law”

ABA Journal: “Lawyers and judges face hurdles in struggle to cope with influx of young immigrants”

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