Loyola University Chicago


Mary Meg McCarthy

School of Law

Mary Meg McCarthy

Executive Director; National Immigrant Justice Center, A program of Heartland Alliance

Mary Meg McCarthy (JD ‘89) is a nationally respected advocate for low-income immigrants. As the executive director of the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), one of the nation’s leading immigrant and human rights advocacy organizations, McCarthy has grown the staff to over 70 and developed an unparalleled network of more than 1,500 pro bono attorneys who provide legal services to 10,000 immigrants annually. With its unique combination of direct service, impact litigation, and advocacy, the NIJC promotes due process protections before the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress, and the executive branch.

McCarthy has testified before congressional committees on human rights and immigration detention reform. A sought-after speaker at national and international conferences, she is quoted regularly in leading news outlets such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and MSNBC. McCarthy is the chair of the American Bar Association Commission on Immigration. She is also a member of The Chicago Network, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the Chicago Bar Association.

McCarthy has met with members of the Mexican Congress, academics, and civil society to address migration issues facing Mexico and Central America. She has toured detention centers throughout the U.S. and gathered evidence of chilling civil rights abuses that permeate the U.S. government’s immigration detention system.

Prior to joining NIJC in 1998, McCarthy practiced civil litigation and served as a pro bono attorney for the NIJC’s asylum project. Earlier in her career, she worked in Chile, helping communities safeguard the rights of individuals living under a dictatorship.

She is a recipient of numerous awards, including the 2015 Loyola University Chicago Damen Award from the School of Law, the Chicago Inn of Court 2015 Don Hubert Public Service Award, the Pax Christi 2013 Teacher of Peace Award, the Robert Bellarmine Award for distinguished alumni from Loyola’s School of Law, the Federal Bar Association's Sarah T. Hughes Civil Rights Award, and others. Several years ago, McCarthy delivered the keynote address at the University of San Diego’s 18th Annual Sister Sally Furay Lecture on the politics of immigration reform and refugee protection.