Lenni B. Benson
Distinguished Chair in Immigration and Human Rights Law
Founder and Senior Advisor, Safe Passage Project
Lenni B. Benson has been teaching and writing in the field of immigration law since 1994. She is the Distinguished Chair of Immigration and Human Rights Law at New York Law School. She founded the Safe Passage Project, which recruits, trains, and mentors attorneys to assist unaccompanied youth who are facing deportation. Safe Passage Project began as an NYLS pro bono project/clinic and is now a nonprofit with a staff of over 40 professionals housed at NYLS that partners with the School’s clinic. With more than 500 pro bono attorneys, Safe Passage Project is currently assisting over 1,000 unaccompanied minors in New York.
Professor Benson has won national awards for her pro bono leadership and excellence in immigration teaching. She has served as a member of several national task forces on the needs of migrant youth and has been a speaker for the federal government at national trainings. She also served as one of the founding steering committee members of the American Immigration Representation Project, formed in 2017, to expand pro bono representation of detained immigrants.
In 2012, she completed, with Russell Wheeler, a study of the immigration courts for the federal government’s Administrative Conference of the United States. She served as the chair of the Immigration and Nationality Law Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York from 2012 to the end of 2014.
Professor Benson is an emeritus trustee of the American Immigration Law Foundation (now the American Immigration Council), is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and served on the board of the Center for Human and Constitutional Rights. Her co-authored book Immigration and Nationality Law: Problems and Strategies was published by LexisNexis in 2013 and a new edition was issued in December of 2019 by Carolina Academic Press. In addition to teaching at NYLS, she has also served as an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School.
Most recently, Professor Benson edited an academic volume of international essays with Professor Mary Crock of the University of Sydney entitled Protecting Migrant Children: In Search of Best Practice. She will prepare a new book for Elgar Press in its Advanced Legal Studies Series on U.S. Immigration Law that is expected to be published in early 2021.
Professor Benson teaches Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, and several advanced seminars ranging from asylum to business immigration.