Biography

Lucas Guttentag teaches immigration law and constitutional litigation at Stanford Law School, where he is Professor of the Practice, and at Yale Law School, where he is Distinguished Senior Fellow and Senior Research Scholar.  He is the founder and former national director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, which he led from 1985 to 2010 in New York and San Francisco. From 2014 to 2016, he served in the Obama administration as a senior advisor on immigration policy, including as Senior Counselor to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson.

Guttentag has engaged in extensive class action and appellate litigation throughout the country for more than thirty years, including arguing successfully in the Supreme Court, to advance the civil and constitutional rights of non-citizens. He has testified in Congress, writes and speaks widely on immigration issues, and often appears in national media. He listed in Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America, is a member of the American Law Institute (ALI), a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, the recipient of an honorary degree from CUNY Law School, and was named a “human rights hero” by the American Bar Association Human Rights journal in 2002.  He has received the top litigation award from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) four times, named California Lawyer “Lawyer of the Year” in appellate law, a Top 100 lawyer in Northern California, and was recognized in 2007 as one of the country’s top 25 immigrant advocates of the last 25 years by the National Immigration Forum.  His litigation includes designing a five-year legal strategy and arguing INS v. St. Cyr to uphold habeas corpus protections for immigrants facing deportation and prohibiting retroactive elimination of 212(c) waivers.  Other significant cases include American Baptist Churches v. Thornburgh, providing protection to 500,000 Central American refugees, Haitian Centers Council v. McNary, representing Haitian refugees at Guantanamo, a series of cases challenging the immigration marriage fraud statute that led to congressional repeal, suing government officials for torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib, and directing the ACLU’s challenge to state and local anti-immigrant laws, including Arizona’s SB1070.  He is currently serving as counsel in Nielsen v. Preap challenging mandatory immigration detention in the Supreme Court.  Guttentag serves as a consultant, advisor and board member to numerous non-profit and philanthropic immigration advocacy and legal organizations.  Guttentag served as a law clerk to Texas federal judge William Wayne Justice, practiced civil rights law in Los Angeles, and taught at Columbia Law School before joining the ACLU.  He is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and Harvard Law School.

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