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One Portland Non-Profit Is Challenging Trump’s Border Policies—And Winning.

The Innovation Law Lab has become a national leader taking on immigrant cases.

By Fiona McCann September 23, 2019 Published in the October 2019 issue of Portland Monthly

“A migrant who has a lawyer to represent them is five and a half times more likely to win their case and avoid deportation,” says Jordan Cunning, an attorney with Portland’s Innovation Law Lab. “It’s life-changing.” The nonprofit, true to its name, has emerged as a national leader in the effort to transform the legal landscape for migrants and refugees targeted by Trump policy.

Among its achievements: combining technology with volunteer attorneys to scale up the number of clients the lab can serve. Meanwhile, its Border X project focuses on getting legitimate asylum seekers out of detention as quickly as possible. The organization also joins in on legal challenges to an array of Trump policy decisions, including a new rule stating that only people who enter the US at a lawful point of entry may apply for asylum.

This has all meant rapid growth for an outfit founded in 2015 to fight family detention under Obama. The ILL now has 26 employees around the country, with its hub in Portland. The goal? “A world where every case that should win, does win. Every time. Everywhere.”

For more stories about local nonprofits making change in Oregon and beyond, visit

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