ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties
Border Litigation Project Legal Fellow

The ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLUF-SDIC) is a civil liberties and civil rights organization that uses the tools of litigation, legislation, policy, communications, and organizing to advance equality, freedom, and justice. Our affiliate, which has an annual budget of $5.1 million, covers the length of California’s border with Mexico and includes 40 staff and 23 board members. The ACLUF-SDIC is also part of the ACLU of California, a collaboration of the three ACLU affiliates statewide, which have offices in San Diego, El Centro, Orange County, the Inland Empire, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Francisco, and Sacramento. Together, the three affiliates have more than 285,000 members and 200 staff in California. In addition, we work collaboratively with our national office and sister affiliates along the U.S.-Mexico border. We also value partnerships with community organizations and groups across the state and along the border.

Using targeted impact litigation, advocacy and public outreach, the Border Litigation Project carries on the ACLU’s commitment to protecting the rights and liberties of immigrants and communities of color along the border. The Project conducts impact litigation in federal courts with the goal of defending and expanding the rights of border residents, enforcing the guarantees of the Constitution, and achieving equal justice under the law.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the largest law enforcement agency in the United States; its FY18 spending authority is $16.357 billion, with an additional $4.4 billion for border security operations. CBP employs more than 60,000 officials, including more than 21,000 Border Patrol agents. Since January 2010, more than forty individuals have died as a result of an encounter with CBP officials. At least thirty-five of these deaths resulted from the use of lethal force, and at least sixteen of these victims were U.S. citizens. According to the former head of CBP Internal Affairs, Border Patrol views itself as a “paramilitary border security force” that believes it is not beholden to “constitutional constraints” and rejects “outside scrutiny.”

The Border Litigation Project has focused on challenging abuses arising from Border Patrol’s interior enforcement activities, including checkpoints and “roving patrols” far from any actual border. The Project has also targeted Border Patrol’s deplorable and inhumane detention facilities and agents’ routine use of excessive force against citizens and noncitizens alike. The Project endeavors to increase agency transparency through strategic Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation. Our docket lies at the intersection of racial justice, police practices, and immigrants’ rights issues, and provides ample opportunities for a committed civil rights attorney to work toward greater government accountability and social justice.

The ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties seeks applicants for a legal fellowship for the Border Litigation Project (BLP), to begin in Fall 2019.
Under the supervision of the Border Litigation Project Senior Staff Attorney and the Legal Director, the Border Litigation Project Legal Fellow will:

  • Conduct legal research and prepare research memoranda, as assigned, on a variety of questions pertaining to civil and human rights violations by federal agents at or near the U.S.-Mexico border; and
  • Participate in all aspects of civil litigation, including client management, discovery, motion practice, trial, and appeals; and
  • Help manage public records requests projects; and
  • Develop practice advisories and other reference materials to assist civil rights lawyers in litigating cases against CBP and/or Border Patrol; and
  • Review intakes and identify legal and advocacy strategies based on civilian complaints of border-related abuses, including drafting White Papers and administrative complaints; and
  • such other assignments, as required.


  • J.D. or equivalent, and membership in the California State Bar (or plans to take the California State Bar Examination no later than July 2019).
  • Spanish language proficiency required (will be tested at time of interview).
  • Relevant civil rights experience on border, immigration, racial justice, national security, police practices, or other related issues.
  • Willingness and ability to travel, including across Border Patrol checkpoints and to and from Mexico as necessary.
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct complex legal analysis and fact-finding.
  • Excellent research, writing, analysis, and verbal communication skills, including the ability to translate complex legal and policy issues for diverse audiences.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills. A proven ability to work both independently and within a team while exhibiting flexibility and good judgment.
  • Strong time and project management skills, including a high level of organization, attention to detail, and follow-through, and demonstrated ability to balance and prioritize multiple activities and responsibilities.
  • Self-motivated with the ability to take initiative; calmly manage a variety of tasks; and diligently see projects through to completion.
  • Demonstrated experience engaging in creative problem solving while utilizing a solutions-oriented approach.
  • A deep and demonstrated commitment to public interest law, civil liberties, immigrants’ rights, and racial and social justice.
  • A federal judicial clerkship and/or prior civil rights litigation experience is preferred, but not required.

This Fellowship is funded directly by the ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties’ Border Litigation Project. Competitive public interest legal salary commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits.

Interested candidates should compile the following documents into one PDF file:

  1. a letter of interest;
  2. a resume or CV;
  3. unofficial law school and undergraduate degree transcripts;
  4. a legal writing sample unedited by others, not to exceed 5 double-spaced pages (excerpts from longer documents are fine); and
  5. the names, telephone numbers, and email addresses of at least two references for whom you have completed legal work.

Attach your one PDF file to an email with [Fall 2019 BLP Fellow] in the subject line.
Emails should be sent to [email protected].
DEADLINE: Applications will be accepted through Friday October 12, 2018.