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Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA)


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We will protect the homeland by diligently litigating cases while adhering to the highest standards of professional conduct, providing timely and accurate legal advice; and optimizing resources to advance DHS and ICE missions.

The Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) is the largest legal program in DHS, with over 1,250 attorneys and 290 support personnel. By statute, OPLA serves as the exclusive representative of DHS in immigration removal proceedings before the Executive Office for Immigration Review, litigating all removal cases including those against criminal aliens, terrorists, and human rights abusers.

OPLA also provides a full range of legal services to ICE programs and offices. OPLA provides legal advice and prudential counsel to ICE personnel on their customs, criminal, and immigration law enforcement authorities, the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act, ethics, liability under the Federal Tort Claims Act, and a range of administrative law issues, such as contract, fiscal, and employment law. OPLA represents the agency before the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Board of Contract Appeals. OPLA attorneys provide essential support to the Department of Justice in the prosecution of ICE cases and in the defense of ICE’s authorities in federal court.

In addition to its headquarters in Washington, D.C., OPLA has 25 field locations with a presence in more than 60 offices throughout the United States.

Chief of Staff

  • Executive Communications Unit
  • Headquarters Administrative Operations
  • Knowledge Management Division
  • Strategic Management Division

Enforcement and Litigation

  • District Court Litigation Division
  • Enforcement and Removal Operations Law Division
  • Homeland Security Investigations Law Division
  • Human Rights Violator Law Division
  • Immigration Law and Practice Division
  • National Security Law Division

Field Legal Operations

  • 25 OPLA Field Locations

General and Administrative Law

  • Commercial and Administrative Law Division
  • Government Information Law Division
  • ICE Ethics Office
  • Labor and Employment Law Division
  • Mission Support Division
Last Reviewed/Updated: 11/30/2020