AILALink, created and maintained by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), is an immigration law powerhouse. It’s an one-stop-shop for primary immigration law research and includes a well-rounded set of secondary materials from AILA’s most heavily relied upon practice publications (e.g. Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook, Business Immigration: Law and Practice, and AILA’s Asylum Primer) to conference publications and practice guides. It’s easily browsable from the expanding menu on the left pane, but also provides multiple different search options. Getting up to speed, staying informed, and finding the practical answers you need is easy with AILALink.
Primary law in AILALink has been highly curated to only include immigration-related items and includes statutes, regulations (9 CFR chapters), Federal Register (1997-present), and court and federal agency decisions. They recently added a flagging feature to re’s a new to the Code of Federal Regulations: “a system to help highlight CFR provisions that were altered by a rule which may be subject to a court order prohibiting its implementation.” Red dotted lines will appear around such CFR sections so readers know to take a closer look at the source material in the footnote to fully understand the status of contentious regulations. A timely addition considering how volatile immigration policy and procedures have become of late!
Besides what primarily law is directly in the AILALink platform, Fastcase Premium gives full text access to all federal court opinions, BIA/AG/AAO/EOIR Director Precedent Decisions (I&N Dec.), and five administrative databases curated especially for AILALink subscribers: AAO decisions, BALCA decisions, OCAHO decisions, DOL ALJ decisions, and DOL ARB decisions. It is important to note that Fastcase Premium will open in a separate tab or window and must be searched separately. AILALink only features selections of immigration-related laws and regulations, but Fastcase has a complete bank of U.S. Code, Code of Federal Regulations and state statutes, regulations, and court cases. Since AILALink has hyperlinks to these materials in Fastcase, it’s a better user experience to use the two in tandem.
The coverage of agency memos, minutes, manuals, guidance, and reports is thorough but not overwhelming. In addition to memos and minutes from the DOD, CDC, SSA, ORR, AO of the US Courts, EEOC, Selective Service, White House, and NLRB, you’ll also be able to pull up the DOJ Justice Manual, Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) Courts & Appeals System (ECAS) User Manual, EOIR Policy Manual, EOIR Uniform Docketing System Manual, Administrative Appeals Office Practice Manual, Affirmative Asylum Procedures Manual, and the CBP’s Use of Force Policy, Guidelines and Procedures Handbook.
AILALink’s thirty-three available e-books are organized under the following topic headings: Asylum, Criminal & Removal Publications, Business Publications, Occupational Guidebooks, Consular Practice Publications, Family Publications, Litigation Publications, and General Publications. The last two years of AILA’s own law journal, published by Fastcase’s Full Court Press, are listed under AILA Periodicals.
There are also reports and guides from the American Immigration Council (AIC, founded in 1987 by AILA), including three new ones from 2021: The Legacy of Racism within the U.S. Border Patrol, What Immigration Issues Do Americans Hold Sacred?, Measuring In Absentia Removal in Immigration Court. AIC also releases Practice Advisories which can be found in AILALink. Some examples: Freedom of Information Act and Immigration Agencies and Strategies and Considerations in the Wake of Niz-Chavez v. Garland. One other special item worth pointing out is the Safe Passage Project’s Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Manual, also found under reports and guides.
Don’t miss these two important options: the AB icon toggles footnotes on/off (especially important in AILA books) and the pencil icon toggles search term highlighting on/off. When you toggle on the term highlighting, two little directional arrows appear. Use these arrows to quickly jump to where your next search term appears; it’s a much better way to navigate your results than scrolling. Some of the sections are massively long to scroll and watch for your results, assuming you have the highlights on!
If you’ve browsed but aren’t sure where you’ll find answers, advanced search allows you to customize the content you search (or leave it on the default which will search everything). Find a Case allows you to pull up a case by citation or party name. Since only select cases are available in AILALink, access to Fastcase Premium has been included for expanding case law research. The search capability does not support advanced syntax, the kind familiar to power Westlaw and Lexis+ users. Nonetheless, there’s a proximity search box! For researchers reliant on Westlaw and Lexis’ advanced search functionality and filtering options, you’ll have to simplify your searching in AILALink. But then again since the content on AILALink is already finely curated, keeping your search simple and utilizing proximity searching is plenty adequate for getting good results. Speaking of Westlaw and Lexis+, since we have access to both, I would strongly suggest not relying on Fastcase for case research. It’s a great addition for users who don’t otherwise have access to premium case law research tools, but we do, so leverage the headnotes, KeyCite, Shepard’s Report, Key Number System, citing references and notes of decision/case annotations for the most effective case law research.
Spend twenty minutes clicking around in AILALink and you’ll no doubt discover several go-to references worth bookmarking because if you’re in the Immigration Law Clinic or trying to learn about immigration law and practice, this is a database you’ll use again and again.