No one should be alone

The Acacia Center for Justice is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that supports and partners with a national network of human rights defenders who provide legal defense to immigrants at risk of detention or deportation.

Acacia fights for access to legal defense for all immigrants at risk of detention or deportation, regardless of age, ability, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, race, the perceived strength of a case, previous interaction with the criminal system, or any other factor.

Serious, elderly immigrant thinking, looking at camera, closeup portrait.

We are building the unbuilt

No person in detention or facing deportation should have to navigate the U.S. immigration system alone and without legal support. Immigration law is too complex, and the stakes are too high –including potential exile and the loss of freedom, family, and community ties. Yet, federal law does not guarantee legal representation in immigration court, and most immigrants are forced to undergo this complicated process without a lawyer to defend them.

As a result, many immigrants seeking safety end up detained and deported without being heard and with no real chance to fight their cases. This injustice separates families, harms communities, and undermines due process, liberty, equal protection, human dignity, and our shared prosperity.

All people facing the U.S. immigration deportation system must have the right to legal defense and freedom from detention. The urgent realization of these fundamental rights is Acacia’s unwavering commitment and impassioned fight, standing as a beacon for justice, compassion, and the preservation of human rights in the face of a complex and unjust system.

Our Mission

In coordination with our partners in the field, Acacia fights for the right to legal defense for all immigrants at risk of detention or deportation and cultivates the conditions required to realize that right. In so doing, Acacia advances innovative frameworks within our national community of advocates that support and champion the legal rights of all immigrants.

Our Vision 

Acacia envisions a nation with a transformed immigration system that embodies freedom from detention, due process, and equal protection, where every person facing the prospect of exile and community separation has access to meaningful legal defense.

Elderly immigrant couple laughing

What guides us

We ground our values in the shared humanity and the ongoing pursuit of justice and equity.

Racial Justice

The U.S. immigration detention and deportation system is not “broken,” but is intentionally designed to exploit, exclude, criminalize, detain, and deport people who have historically been viewed as undeserving of inclusion in our national fabric, particularly Black and brown people.

Thus, racial justice is the necessary starting point for transforming this system. Acacia understands, too, that racial justice is fundamentally intersectional with the many other grounds – economic class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, physical ability, and mental health status – illegitimately used to exclude, detain, and deport.

Justice for Immigrants Facing Removal

All people subject to removal by the immigration detention and deportation system must have – by right and in practice – meaningful legal defense. “Meaningful” means zealous, holistic, person-centered, and supported by the necessary structural conditions. Until that is a reality, we will continue to cultivate the field via our existing program networks.

The right to legal defense must include both the right itself and the structural conditions and resources – including guaranteed funding, reasonable caseloads, independence from the government, unimpeded access to clients, and access to holistic services – required to make that right meaningful.

Freedom from Detention

No immigrant should be detained, and the best interests of children should always be paramount. The immigration detention system (including the use of electronic surveillance) must be abolished. The barbaric use of solitary confinement in immigration detention must be ended. The pipeline between the criminal and immigration system must be dismantled, including the use of local law enforcement for immigration purposes. All immigrants must be able to fight their cases in and with the support of their communities.


Acacia cannot succeed alone. Our most important partnership is our legal defender network. Other key partnerships include coalition and movement allies, directly impacted communities served by our programs, and government policymakers and funders. Only through our partnerships can we achieve our mission and vision of meaningful legal defense for all immigrants at risk of detention or deportation.

Acacia will consult closely with our legal defender network and other partners on key programmatic and strategic questions that impact our shared goal of meaningful legal access and defense for all immigrants at risk of detention or deportation.


Acacia provides high-quality administration of large federal programs using our independent judgment and analysis. Our tactical decisions to speak and to take positions that affect immigrant rights are informed by our mission, vision, principles, and goals. Further, we believe in the independent judgment of counsel and will fight to protect that right.


Acacia recognizes that an intersectional lens is essential to grasp the nuances and the harmful impacts of the U.S. immigration system, especially within the detention and deportation process. This multi-dimensional harm impacts individuals based on intersecting and layered identities, including but not limited to race, class, physical and mental well-being, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, and national origin. The complexity of these interconnected factors often leads to a compounded impact greater than that of individual elements. 

Group photo of Acacia Team, July 2023

Who we are

Program teams include former immigration attorneys and public defenders, social workers, researchers, and policy advocates who work together to build infrastructure and political will.

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