Ahilan Arulanantham (@ahilan_toolong) is senior counsel at the ACLU of Southern California.
Ahilan has successfully litigated a number of cases to protect the rights of immigrants and minority communities against government oppression, including Nadarajah v. Gonzales, the first Ninth Circuit case establishing limits on the government’s power to detain immigrants as national security threats; Jennings v. Rodriguez, which he argued twice before the United States Supreme Court; and Franco v. Holder, the first case to establish a right to appointed legal representation for any group of immigrants facing deportation, which required the federal government to provide legal representation to mentally ill immigrants.
Ahilan has testified before both the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate on national security and immigrants’ rights issues. He has also taught a course on preventive detention at the University of Chicago Law School and the University of California, Irvine School of Law.
Prior to joining the ACLU SoCal in 2004, Ahilan was an Assistant Federal Public Defender in El Paso, Texas for two years. Before that, he was an Equal Justice Works/NAPIL fellow at the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project in New York. Ahilan 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.
Ahilan has repeatedly been named one of the Daily Journal’s Top 100 Lawyers in California. In 2010, he received the Arthur C. Helton Human Rights Award by the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association.
In 2016, Ahilan was awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, a so-called “Genius” grant.