Julia Harumi Mass is a senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California. Since joining the ACLU in 2003, Julia has worked on a variety of issues including students’ rights, immigrants’ rights, freedom of speech, and national security.
Since 2006, Julia has led the ACLU of Northern California’s immigrants’ rights work, which in recent years has focused on campaigns to limit local police and sheriff participation in immigration enforcement and litigation to increase access to justice for detained immigrants.
Her current cases include a suit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for refusing to release documents that would shed light on the agency’s treatment of asylum seekers. She also led the ACLU of Northern California in obtaining a groundbreaking settlement to allow immigrants in detention to access phones to contact lawyers, families, and government agencies. For someone in detention, basic phone access is necessary to getting their fair day in court, and therefore their only hope for returning to jobs and families. Julia also brought a successful class action lawsuit challenging the practice of holding immigrants indefinitely without due process in mandatory detention. Thousands of California’s immigrants may now make an individualized case against their detention.
In another class action lawsuit, Julia and co-counsel asserted that simply being in detention is not a legitimate basis to subject individuals to shackles in immigration court. After over two years of litigation, U.S. immigration authorities agreed to major changes to their shackling policy in San Francisco Immigration Court.
This historic settlement directly affected thousands of immigration detainees and has national implications as a model for litigation and policy across the United States.
In 2015 and 2016, California Lawyer/Daily Journal honored Julia as a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year in the area of immigration. Prior to her work at the ACLU, Julia represented public and private sector labor unions and employees as an associate with Rothner, Segall & Greenstone in Pasadena, California. She also clerked for the Honorable Warren J. Ferguson of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. She has a B.A. in Philosophy from Reed College and received her law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law.