Post written by Rosella Morabito, J.D. Candidate expected 2018, Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is a national association of immigration lawyers, and its website provides a variety of immigration information. AILA’s mission is “to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.” While AILA is clearly in favor of immigrant rights, its website provides unbiased information.
The AILA site contains a row of tabs which users can easily click on from the home page including an About tab, a Membership tab which lays out the benefits of membership including access to additional resources, an Advocacy and Media tab, a Conferences and CLE tab, a Publications tab, a Law Practice tab, an InfoNet Research Library tab, and a Recent Postings tab, each containing subtabs. The home page has a search box in the top right corner, and provides several quick links for finding an immigration lawyer, stopping immigration fraud, and finding or listing a job. The home page also lists upcoming events, recent postings, processing times, and a link to purchase a legal reference book.
The About page contains several subtabs to help users become familiar with AILA, including missions and goals, leadership and governance, national office, annual awards, supporters and sponsors such as Cerenade and Hanover Insurance Group, promotional opportunities, announcements, immigration lawyer search, and The Immigration Justice Campaign. All of these links are clearly visible on the left hand side of the About page. While users can pay to become members, they can still access many free resources without purchasing membership.
The Advocacy and Media tab catches the eye with graphics in the middle of the page regarding featured issues, AILA National Spokespeople, immigration politics ticker, public service announcements, and updates on what is happening in Congress. The left hand side of this tab also contains these same links which is a design weakness because it is redundant and can be confusing. Other links include press releases and statements, and advocacy and media tools. This tab contains updated immigration news, correspondence, immigration basics, and links to AILA’s social media accounts. AILA has a strong presence on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Storify. AILA uses its social media pages to share pictures from immigration and AILA events and provide news updates and open discussions on immigration reform. AILA does not have an RSS feed which is the biggest weakness of the website. However, there is a podcast RSS Feed which requires a paid subscription.
Legal researchers can find much valuable information in the Publications tab. This tab includes AILALINK, a fee-based research platform that links to immigration books that users would need to purchase, another weakness. However, this tab also contains many free resources that provide updated immigration information. There are links to free blog posts on a range of current topics such as employment-based immigration, quotas, and asylum. The Publications tab also includes links to free videos from knowledgeable and qualified individuals.
The InfoNet Research Library is another very useful tab for legal researchers. Users can easily type in words or search by topic and conduct an advanced search in the research library. The advanced search allows users to conduct a broad or narrow search in any immigration issue, and either way a multitude of free documents will appear which can be downloaded for free. The documents state what they are or cite where they were obtained which ensures accuracy. Users can find documents by topic, type, or state by using links displayed under a graphic in the middle of the page or on the left side. AILA provides links to numerous web resources including legal research, government information, policy research, legislative research, human rights, children’s issues and more.
The Recent Postings Tab is very useful for legal researchers as it lists the most recent news articles on the top by date. There are over 100 postings from the last two weeks which is a sufficient amount. Users can search by dates, topic, or type, but cannot manually enter a search under this tab which is a weakness.
The AILA site has many strengths including its appearance and functionality. The site contains several means to conduct easy searches and provides current and credible free sources on all immigration issues. The tabs display many easy-to-use links that are helpful for legal researchers and lawyers. Although users have to pay for books, an RSS Feed, and a membership for additional benefits, legal researchers will still find value in AILA’s website.