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Habeas Petitions for Detained Immigrants


Speaker(s): Ahilan Arulanantham, Holly S. Cooper, Raha Jorjani, Zachary M. Nightingale
Recorded on: Mar. 3, 2017
PLI Program #: 204297

Ahilan Arulanantham is the Deputy Legal Director at the ACLU of Southern California and a senior staff attorney at the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.  He has successfully litigated a number of cases to protect the rights of immigrants, including several large class actions.  In 2007, he was named one of California Lawyer Magazine’s Lawyers of the Year for his work at the intersection of immigrants’ rights and national security, and in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2012 was named one of the Daily Journal’s Top 100 Lawyers in California.  He has served as a Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School, where he taught a course on Preventive Detention.  In 2010 he received the Arthur C. Helton Human Rights Award by the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association.

Prior to joining the ACLU's Southern California office, Mr. Arulanantham was an Assistant Federal Public Defender in El Paso, Texas for two years.  Before that, he was a fellow at the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project in New York.

Mr. Arulanantham is a former law clerk on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, a graduate of Yale Law School, and a graduate of Oxford University, which he attended as a Marshall Scholar.


Holly Cooper, Co-director of the Immigration Law Clinic, has extensive litigation experience defending the rights of immigrants and is a nationally recognized expert on immigration detention issues and on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions.

Cooper is a graduate of UC Davis School of Law, where she was on the Board of the King Hall Legal Foundation and an active member of the National Lawyers Guild. She received her B.A. degree in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego. As an undergraduate, she also studied Political Science and Economics at the University of Padua in Italy. She speaks, reads and writes in both Spanish and Italian.

After law school, Cooper worked for Reed Smith LLP (formerly Crosby, Heafey Roach & May LLP), The Law Offices of Fellom & Solorio, and the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. As the Senior Staff Attorney at the Florence Project, Cooper initiated the Detained Immigrant Children’s Rights Project, provided representation and pro se assistance for adult detainees, and mentored pro bono attorneys. She currently serves on the UC Haiti Initiative’s Steering Committee and is on the Advisory Board for the Gifford Center for Population Studies.

Cooper joined the School of Law faculty in 2006. In the Immigration Law Clinic, she focuses on advocating for the rights of detained immigrants. In 2011, she was the recipient of the King Hall Legal Foundation’s Outstanding Alumni Award and the Carol Weiss King award from the National Lawyers Guild.

Cooper also trains lawyers on a national level and regularly speaks at academic conferences. She provides expert legal advice to public defenders and was the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Liaison to the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge for two years. In the international domain, Cooper has worked on human rights issues in Haiti and has volunteered on multiple human rights delegations to Haiti since the earthquake.


Raha Jorjani is an immigration defense attorney for the Office of the Alameda County Public Defender and is directing California’s first public defender immigration representation project. This project recently received the 2016 “Program of the Year” award from the California Public Defender’s Association (CDPA). From 2007 until 2014, Raha served as a Clinical Professor at the UC Davis School of Law in the immigration law clinic. In 2015, she taught the first course offered at the UC Berkeley School of Law dedicated to “Crimmigration,” the study of the intersection between immigration and criminal law. Since 2005, Ms. Jorjani has provided pro bono representation and legal assistance to hundreds of immigrants, most of them detained, before the immigration courts, BIA, U.S. District Court, U.S. Court of Appeals, and California state courts. Ms. Jorjani litigated the Israel O. case before the California Court of Appeal for the First District, which resulted in the first published opinion in California to uphold the availability of one-parent claims to Special Immigrant Juvenile Status for kids in juvenile delinquency proceedings. Ms. Jorjani regularly conducts local and national trainings for immigration attorneys, criminal defense attorneys, and state court judges, on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. In 2016, Ms. Jorjani was selected as one of eight fellows for the Rosenberg Foundation’s Inaugural Leading Edge Fellowship.


Zachary M. Nightingale practices immigration law in San Francisco, California. A partner at Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale, LLP, his immigration practice for the last 20 years has focused on deportation defense and litigation in immigration and federal courts. He received his J.D. and M.S. (mathematics) from Stanford and A.B. from U.C. Berkeley, and is certified by the State Bar of California as an expert in immigration law. Mr. Nightingale was honored with AILA’s 2003 Jack Wasserman Memorial Award for excellence in litigation, and was the 2014 NIP/NLG member honoree for outstanding contributions to the cause of immigrant justice.