Fall 2018 Border Litigation Legal Fellowship - ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties

Legal Fellowships
September 29, 2017

The American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLU-SDIC) is a civil liberties and civil rights organization that uses the tools of litigation, legislation, policy, communications, and organizing to advance equality, freedom, and justice. Our affiliate covers the length of California’s border with Mexico, and includes 35 staff, 23 board members, and an annual budget of $4.8 million. The ACLU-SDIC is also part of the ACLU of California, a collaborative of the three ACLU affiliates in California. The ACLU’s California offices are located in San Diego, El Centro, Los Angeles, Orange County, the Inland Empire, Fresno, San Francisco, and Sacramento. Together, the three affiliates have more than 285,000 members and 200 staff people in California. In addition, we work collaboratively with our national office and sister affiliates along the U.S.-Mexico border. We value partnerships and collaboration with community organizations and groups across the state and along the border.

The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties seeks applicants for a legal fellowship for the Border Litigation Project (BLP), to begin in Fall 2018.


Using targeted impact litigation, advocacy and public outreach, the Border Litigation Project carries on the ACLU’s commitment to protecting the rights and liberties of immigrants and communities of color along the border. The Project conducts impact litigation in federal courts with the goal of defending and expanding the rights of border residents, enforcing the guarantees of the Constitution, and achieving equal justice under the law.

Since 2006, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)’s budget has more than doubled, from $6 billion to $12.9 billion in Fiscal Year 2014. In the same time period, the U.S. Border Patrol—a sub-agency within CBP—has nearly doubled in size, from approximately 12,000 agents to over 21,000 agents today. Since January 2010, more than forty individuals have died as a result of an encounter with CBP officials. At least thirty-five of these deaths resulted from the use of lethal force, and at least sixteen of these victims were U.S. citizens. According to the former head of CBP Internal Affairs, Border Patrol views itself as a “paramilitary border security force” that believes it is not beholden to “constitutional constraints” and rejects “outside scrutiny.”

The Border Litigation Project has focused on challenging abuses arising from Border Patrol’s interior enforcement activities, including checkpoints and “roving patrols” far from any actual border. BLP has also targeted Border Patrol’s deplorable and inhumane detention facilities and agents’ routine use of excessive force against citizens and noncitizens alike. The Project also works to increase agency transparency through strategic Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation. Our docket lies at the intersection of racial justice, police practices, and immigrants’ rights issues, and provides ample opportunities for a committed civil rights attorney to work toward greater government accountability and social justice.

Job Description

Under the supervision of the ACLU of San Diego Border Litigation Project Staff Attorney and Legal Director, the Border Litigation Project Legal Fellow will be responsible for:

• Conducting legal research and preparing research memoranda, as assigned, on a variety of questions pertaining to civil and human rights violations by federal agents at or near the U.S.-Mexico border; and
• Participating in all aspects of civil litigation, including discovery and motion practice; and
• Developing practice advisories and other reference materials to assist civil rights lawyers in litigating cases against CBP and/or Border Patrol; and
• Reviewing intakes and identifying legal and advocacy strategies based on civilian complaints of border-related abuses, including drafting White Papers and administrative complaints; and
such other assignments, as required.

Qualifications and Experience 

J.D. or equivalent, and membership in the California State Bar (or plans to take the California State Bar Examination no later than February 2018).
• Spanish language proficiency required (will be tested at time of interview).
• Relevant expertise on border, immigration, racial justice, national security, police practices, or other related issues.
• Willingness and ability to travel, including across Border Patrol checkpoints and to and from Mexico as necessary.
• Demonstrated ability to conduct complex legal analysis and fact-finding.
• Excellent research, writing, and verbal communication skills; careful attention to detail.
• Excellent interpersonal skills. A proven ability to work both independently and within a team. Self-motivated with the ability to take initiative; calmly manage a variety of tasks; and diligently see projects through to completion.
• A strong and demonstrated commitment to public interest law, civil liberties, immigrants’ rights, and racial and social justice.
• A federal judicial clerkship and/or prior civil rights litigation experience is preferred, but not required.


This Fellowship is funded directly by the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties’ Border Litigation Project. Competitive public interest legal salary commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits.

How to Apply 

Interested candidates should compile the following documents into one PDF file: (1) a letter of interest; (2) a resume or CV; (3) unofficial law school and undergraduate degree transcripts; (4) a legal writing sample unedited by others, not to exceed 5 double-spaced pages (excerpts from longer documents are fine); and (5) the names, telephone numbers, and email addresses of at least two references for whom you have completed legal work. Please place [Fall 2018 BLP Fellow] in your email subject line and send to mebadolahi@aclusandiego.org.

Applications will be received and reviewed on a rolling basis through Monday October 2, 2017.

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