Biography of Cecillia Wang

Cecillia Wang is the Director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.  She is an expert on issues at the intersection of immigration and criminal law, including state anti-immigrant laws, racial profiling and other unlawful police practices relating to immigration enforcement.  Her notable cases include a class action lawsuit against racial profiling and illegal detentions by the Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff’s Office, a challenge to an Arizona state constitutional amendment categorically prohibiting bail to suspected undocumented immigrants, a challenge to Alabama’s notorious HB 56 anti-immigrant law, and challenges to systemic delays in the naturalization system.

Cecillia has been recognized for her efforts on behalf of immigrant communities through the Carol Weiss King Award from the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers’ Guild, the Cruz Reynoso–Ralph Abascal–Don Quixote Award from California Rural Legal Assistance, the Eric Quezada Courage Award from Dolores Street Legal Services, Vanderbilt Law School’s Social Justice Fellowship and the Asian American Bar Association’s Joe Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy.  She is a frequent commentator on topics relating to immigrants’ rights through media outlets including National Public Radio, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Arizona Republic, CNN and Fox News.  She has spoken about civil rights and immigration law at Yale, Stanford, Berkeley, the University of Pennsylvania, and Vanderbilt law schools and has trained attorneys and advocates on civil rights, immigration and litigation practice topics.

Cecillia has litigation experience at every level of the federal court system and has been trial counsel in numerous federal cases, and has argued appeals in the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the D.C., Second, Ninth and Eleventh Circuits.  From 1998-2002, Cecillia was a trial attorney with the federal public defender office for the Southern District of New York and went to trial in criminal cases ranging from securities fraud to extortion and firearms offenses.  From 2002-04, Cecillia was an attorney with the San Francisco law firm of Keker & Van Nest, focusing on commercial litigation and white collar criminal defense in both federal and California state courts.  From 2003-05, Cecillia was appointed to the federal Criminal Justice Act indigent defense panel for the Northern District of California and again represented clients in federal criminal cases at all stages from grand jury through trial or plea and sentencing.

Cecillia is a 1995 graduate of the Yale Law School, where she was an Articles Editor for The Yale Law Journal and represented clients through the Immigration Clinic and Lowenstein Human Rights Clinic. She clerked for Judge William Norris of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Justice Harry Blackmun of the Supreme Court of the United States.  Cecillia grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and was an undergraduate at the University of California at Berkeley, where she graduated with highest honors in English and was valedictorian in both her major areas of study, English and Integrative Biology.

Cecillia serves on the boards of the Asian Law Caucus, one of the country’s leading Asian American civil rights groups, and Chinese for Affirmative Action, a community-based organization serving and empowering low-income immigrant communities.

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