Citywide Immigrant Legal Empowerment Collaborative (CILEC)

The Citywide Immigrant Legal Empowerment Collaborative is a collaborative of nonprofit legal services providers and base-building organizations. Through outreach, education and movement-led lawyering, CILEC builds capacity, resilience, and power among New York’s low-income immigrant communities.

Vision & Mission

CILEC envisions a future that includes an accessible path to legal status for New York City’s immigrants, and economic stability, safe working conditions, and equitable treatment for New York City’s low-wage workers. By connecting direct legal services with organizing, CILEC creates space and opportunities for impacted individuals to lead us towards this future.

To this end, our legal service organizations provide high-quality immigration and employment-related legal services, while our community based organizations practice culturally sensitive case management, and organize low-income and immigrant communities to take collective action around needs and issues they are facing. Together, we work to empower immigrants and low-wage workers in New York City with knowledge of their legal rights and tools to defend them.

History & Structure

In 2015, the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center (CDP-UJC, now TakeRoot Justice)–whose legal service model is based on partnerships with community-based organizations–convened several of its community partners, as well as legal service providers with similar models or aligned values, to form CILEC.  CILEC became one of the primary recipients of New York City’s Immigrant Opportunities Initiative (IOI) contract. While the IOI program focuses on the provision of legal services, CILEC understands that these services can be leveraged to support community organizing and base-building towards long-term change, especially when we work in coalition.

CILEC’s IOI Program Manager, employed by TakeRoot Justice, is responsible for programmatic administration of the contract, reporting, coordinating collaborative-wide activities and efforts, and providing support to CILEC’s member organizations and Steering Committee. The Steering Committee (comprised of four community-based organizations and four legal service providers) makes necessary decisions about the administration of the contract, troubleshoots, coordinates among member organizations, and advocates with NYC on behalf of the collaborative. The Urban Justice Center is responsible for fiscal management of the contract.

For more information, please contact CILEC Coordinator Antonia House at