For more information, see American Immigration Lawyers Association (Nonprofit)
The American Immigration Council (AIC) is a 501(c)(3) advocacy group in favor of expanding immigration to the United States and granting legal status to some populations of illegal immigrants. It was founded by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) in 1987. AIC is AILA’s public policy advocacy affiliate.
AIC engages in strategic lawsuits that advance its policy objectives (such as suing the U.S. government to obtain faster hearings for asylum seekers detained after entering the United States without permission), produces policy documents that promote its agenda (such as a report arguing legal status for undocumented residents would boost U.S. job growth), and sponsors foreign applicants who wish to come to the U.S. for internships and job training with U.S.-based businesses.
AIC frequently cites and rhetorically supports the work of the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). This includes praising the objectives of SPLC lawsuits, defending SPLC from its critics, and joining with SPLC in litigation.
AIC receives major funding from its parent organization, AILA, and large left-wing foundations such as the Foundation to Promote Open Society (founded by left-wing billionaire George Soros), Unbound Philanthropy, and the Ford Foundation.
Formerly known as the American Immigration Law Foundation, AIC is an advocacy group in favor of expanding immigration to the United States and granting legal status to some populations of illegal immigrants. It was founded by the American Immigration Lawyers Association in 1988. As of 2015, at least 7 of the 30 trustees on the AIC board of directors are also on the AILA board, and AILA provided $72,341 in donated staff assistance to AIC.
Since 2015, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, AIC, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association have jointly operated the CARA Family Detention Project, an initiative that provides pro-bono legal services to families that have entered the United States without permission and are seeking asylum. “CARA” is an acronym representing the first letter of the names of the four participating organizations.
AILA has been a vocal and consistent critic of the U.S. government policy of using family detention centers. AILA’s denunciations began when the administration of President Barack Obama launched the policy in 2014, and continued into 2018 as the administration of President Donald Trump continued the policy. Many AILA member lawyers have provided pro-bono legal assistance to the asylum seekers.
Activities and Associations
Alone and with other organizations, AIC engages in litigation, sponsors foreign applicants for U.S.-based job training, and produces policy advocacy documents in favor of its immigration objectives.
Policy Analysis and Development
AIC produces immigration policy reports that promote the benefits of immigrants to the U.S. economy, and of immigration reforms that prioritize easier pathways to legal immigration. Examples include a May 2014 fact sheet explaining the process a refugee must go through to obtain asylum status and under what circumstances the U.S. government must accept refugees, reports for all 50 states detailing the contribution of immigrants to each state’s economy, and a January 2011 report arguing that granting legal status to illegal immigrants would boost U.S. job growth.
AIC has a dedicated website, ImmigrationImpact.com, publishing regular staff commentaries regarding current immigration news and policy issues. Examples from October 2018 include an analysis arguing the U.S. should grant entry to a so-called “caravan” of an estimated 4,000 mostly Honduran asylum seekers intending to enter the United States without other authorization and a criticism of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsenof the U.S. Department of regarding statements she made to the U.S. Senate about her department’s refugee detention policy.
In cooperation with for-profit businesses and non-profit partners, AIC’s cultural exchange program sponsors foreign-national interns and job trainees coming into the United States. AIC also provides U.S. visa application assistance to both the applicants and U.S.-based organizations and businesses seeking to hire them.
AIC files lawsuits challenging government behavior that conflicts with its immigration policy objectives. Examples include a June 2018 case aimed at forcing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to expedite hearings for asylum seekers being detained after entering the United States without authorization and an October 2018 case against the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) that seeks to reverse recently imposed restrictions on “specialty occupation” H-1B visas.
Association with the Southern Poverty Law Center
AIC’s website has often cited the work of the controversial far-left Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and has quoted SPLC staff in commentaries, such as those criticizing Donald Trump, praising SPLC lawsuits, and defending SPLC from its critics.
As of October 2015, the AIC was participating in a class action lawsuit with SPLC filed against the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). An SPLC news release regarding the case alleges many forms of “abusive treatment” inflicted on asylum seekers by CBP, including “yelling at, harassing, and assaulting asylum seekers and their children,” and telling Guatemalan asylum seekers that “Guatemalans make us sick.”
In its 2015 tax documents AIC reported $4,070,277 in revenue, expenses of $3,782,725, and total net assets of $3,039,630. AIC’s parent organization, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), contributed cash grants of $258,909 toward this total. (Note: AILA also provided AIC with another $72,341 in donated staff assistance for 2015).
Other significant sources of 2015 revenue included large foundations with a history of giving to left-of-center advocacy organizations. Examples include $350,000 from the Foundation to Promote Open Society (founded by left-wing billionaire George Soros),  Unbound Philanthropy (giving $233,300), and the Ford Foundation ($180,000). 
Additionally, the Ford Foundation website shows its annual giving to AIC increased to $450,000 for 2017 (the latest year for which the website provided records).