Ahilan Arulanantham joined the ACLU/SC in 2004. Since 2008 Ahilan served as the Director of Immigrants’ Rights and National Security until being named deputy legal director in February 2011. He is also a senior staff attorney at the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.
During his tenure at the ACLU/SC, he has successfully litigated several landmark cases, including Nadarajah v. Gonzales, the first Ninth Circuit case establishing limits on the government’s power to detain immigrants as national security threats, Diouf v. Chertoff, a nationwide class action suit against the federal government’s policy of forcibly drugging immigrants during deportation efforts, and Rodriguez v. Hayes, which established authority for detained immigrants to bring class action lawsuits challenging their unlawful detention.
Prior to joining the ACLU/SC, Ahilan worked as an assistant federal public defender in El Paso, Texas where he represented people accused of criminal immigration violations, as well as those accused of other federal crimes. He was a fellow at the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project in New York, where he provided legal assistance to dozens of individuals detained after the September 11th attacks.
Ahilan clerked for the Hon. Judge Stephen J. Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He graduated from Yale Law School and Oxford University, which he attended as a Marshall Scholar.