Lenni Benson

Professor of Law
Director, Safe Passage Project

Lenni Benson

Curriculum Vitae

Professor Lenni B. Benson has been teaching and writing in the field of immigration law since 1994. She is a professor at New York Law School and serves as the director of the NYLS Safe Passage Project. Visit: www.safepassageproject.org to learn more. The Project recruits, trains and mentors lawyers and student volunteers who are willing to represent immigrant youth and has won state and national awards for its promotion and support of pro bono work. She also teaches a clinic of advanced students who join other Safe Passage volunteers to screen immigrant youth at the New York Immigration Court each week. She is a national and international speaker on immigration topics.

She serves on several city, state and national taskforces devoted to expand resources for immigrants, especially unaccompanied migrant children. From 2012 to 2015 she was the Chair of the Immigration and Nationality Law Committee for the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. In 2011-2012 she served as a consultant/researcher for the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS). With Russell Wheeler of the Brookings Institution, she prepared a comprehensive report on ways to improve removal adjudication and that report resulted in a formal adoption of over thirty-eight recommendations by ACUS. She is the past chair of the AALS Immigration Law Section and past immigration committee chair for the ABA Section on Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice. Prior to joining academia, she practiced immigration law as a partner in the Los Angeles office of Bryan Cave, LLP. She is a native Arizonan and earned her law degree at the Arizona State College of Law in 1983. She has been an adjunct professor at Columbia teaching both immigration law and a seminar on refugee law.

Professor Benson is an emeritus trustee of the American Immigration Law Foundation (now the American Immigration Council) and is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Until 2012, she was a member of the LexisNexis Faculty Advisory Board. For many years she has served on the Board of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law. In June of 2013 she published: “Immigration and Nationality Law: Problems and Strategies.” (Coauthors include Veronica Jeffers, Lindsay Curcio and Stephen Yale-Loehr). She has served as an expert witness on immigration law topics in administrative, civil, and criminal litigation.

Professor Benson lives in New York with her husband John Wellington and their two children, Max and Lily.


“The Myth of Alien Labor Certification.” Cross-Border Human Resources, Labor and Employment Issues (Andrew P. Morris & Samuel Estreicher eds.). 2005.

“Unresolved Issues and Unintended Consequences of IRIRA of 1996: Effects Upon Immigrants’ Rights.” Chapter 3 in XXI In Defense of the Alien (L.F. Tomasi, ed.). Center for Migration Studies, 1999.

“Judicial Review After the 1996 Legislation.” Chapter 15 in 30th Annual Immigration and Naturalization Institute, at 405–412. Practising Law Institute, 1997.

“Immigration Employer Sanctions and Antidiscrimination Provisions.” Article 8.4 in Arizona Employment Law Handbook, at 8.4-1 – 8.4-17 (T.M. Rogers, ed.). State Bar of Arizona, 1995.

“The ‘New World’ of Judicial Review of Removal Orders.” in 1997–1998 Immigration and Nationality Law Handbook, Volume II, at 32–59 (R.P. Murphy, ed.). American Immigration Lawyers Association, 1997.

“Fundamentals of Judicial Review of Orders of Deportation and Exclusion.” in 1996–1997 Immigration and Nationality Law Handbook, Volume I, at 484–496 (R.P. Murphy, ed.). American Immigration Lawyers Association, 1996.

“Preparation of a Successful Claim for Political Asylum or Withholding Deportation.” Chapter 1 in 29th Annual Immigration and Naturalization Institute, at 7–18. Practising Law Institute, 1996.

“Surviving to Fight Another Day: Preserving Issues for Appeal.” In 1995–1996 Immigration and Nationality Law Handbook, Volume II, at 353–366 (R.P. Murphy, ed.). American Immigration Lawyers Association, 1995.

“Exclusion Alert: Your Client May be a Smuggler.” In 1994–1995 Immigration and Nationality Law Handbook, Volume II, at 456–462 (R.P. Murphy, ed.). American Immigration Lawyers Association, 1994.

“The Long Last Step: A Discussion of Adjustment of Status and Immigrant Visa Processing.” InWorkshops for Legal Assistants, 1994: Basic Immigration Procedures, at 427–444. Practising Law Institute, 1994.

“Employment-Based Immigration: The First Three Preferences.” In Immigration and Nationality Law Handbook 1991–92, Regulatory Overview, at 140–155 (R.P. Murphy, ed.). American Immigration Lawyers Association, 1991 (with N.B. Elkind). Reprinted in The Immigration Act of 1990 Handbook: The Complete Practice Guide to the 1990 Act. 2nd ed. (H. Sklar & S.I. Folinsky, eds.). Clark, Boardman, Callaghan, 1992.

“Employer Sanctions and Anti-Discrimination Provisions.” In The Immigration Act of 1990 Handbook: The Complete Practice Guide to the 1990 Act. 2nd ed., (H. Sklar & S.I. Folinsky, eds.). Clark, Boardman, Callaghan, 1992; and 1st ed., H. Sklar, ed., 1991.

“Life After Mergers and Acquisitions: The Immigration Impact on U.S. Employers and Alien Workers.” In 1990–1991 Immigration and Nationality Law Handbook (R.P. Murphy, ed.). 1990. Reprinted in 2International Quarterly 22 (1990) (with A. Paparelli).

“The Seasonal Agricultural Workers and Replenishment Workers.” In Immigration and Nationality Law, Volume I (E.R. Rubin & R.E. Juceam, eds.). 43rd Anniversary Symposium of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, American Immigration Lawyers Association, 1989.


“The Search for Fair Agency Process: the Immigration Opinions of Judge Michael Daly Hawkins, 1994-2010,” Arizona State Law Journal (April 2011).

“As Old as the Hills: Detention and Immigration,” 5 Intercultural Human Rights Law Review 11 (2010).3

“Aliens and the State Courts: A Framework for Analysis,” Connecticut State Judiciary Annual Training (June 2009).

“Deportation Procedure and Due Process,” Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court (2009).

“You Can’t Get There From Here: Managing Judicial Review of Immigration Cases,” 2007 University of Chicago Legal Forum 405 (2007).

“Making Paper Dolls: How Restrictions on Judicial Review and the Administrative Process Increase Immigration Cases in the Federal Courts (Symposium: Seeking Review: Immigration Law and Federal Court Jurisdiction),” 51 New York Law School Law Review 37-73 (2006-2007).

“Introduction (Symposium: Seeking Review: Immigration Law and Federal Court Jurisdiction),” 51New York Law School Law Review 3-11(2006-2007).

“Separate, Unequal and Alien: Comments on the Limits of Brown (New York Law School Faculty Presentation Day II),” 49 New York Law School Law Review 727-739 (2004-2005).

“Breaking Bureaucratic Borders: A Necessary Step Toward Immigration Law Reform.” 54 Administrative Law Review 203–332 (2002).

“The Invisible Worker (Symposium on Work, Migration and Identity),” 27 North Carolina University Law School Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation 483-496 (2002).

“The ‘New World’ of Judicial Review of Removal Orders.” 12 Georgetown Immigration Law Journal233–264 (1998).

“Back to the Future: Congress Attacks the Right to Judicial Review of Immigration Proceedings (Symposium: Lady Liberty’s Doorstep: Status and Implications of American Immigration Law).” 29Connecticut Law Review 1411–1499 (1997).

“By Hook or By Crook: Exploring the Legality of an INS Sting Operation.” 31 San Diego Law Review813–859 (1994).

“Desert Survival: The Evolving Western Irrigation District.” 1982 Arizona State Law Journal 377–417 (1982).


Co-Author, Immigration and Nationality Law: Problems and Strategies (2013).

U.S. Anti-Discrimination Laws, Contribution to the Migrant Integration Policy Index (Fall/Spring 2011-2012).

Contributing Editor, AILA’s Handbook on Waivers and Relief from Removal. (American Immigration Lawyers Association, 1999).

“Obtaining Judicial Review of Final Removal Orders: Jurisdictional Maze Must be Understood and Navigated.” 221 New York Law Journal 9, 12 (June 14, 1999).

“Immigration Reform and Judicial Review: A Constitutional Crisis.” 16 In Brief 10–11 (Fall/Winter, 1997).

Editor, AILA’s Family Immigration Law Handbook American Immigration Lawyers Association, 1994–1997.

“INS Undercover Operations.” 71 Interpreter Releases 777 (June 13, 1994).

“Immigrant Investors and The First Employment-Based Preference: Priority Workers.” In The California Annual Conference Handbook.

American Immigration Lawyers Association, 1992 (with M. Lukoschek).

Editor, Immigration Law and Defense, 2nd edClark, Boardman, Callaghan, 1989–91.

“A Practitioner’s Guide to Successful Labor Certifications.” 88 Immigration Briefings 5 (May 1988) (with R.C. Bacon).