The Biden administration has appointed seasoned Boston immigration attorney Kerry Doyle to become its immigration enforcement agency’s top prosecutor.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials confirmed to GBH that Doyle, previously of Graves & Doyle, will be its principal legal advisor. The office she will lead is the largest legal program within the Department of Homeland Security, with over 1,250 attorneys and 290 support personnel.

The Office of the Principal Legal Advisor sends its prosecutors to litigate deportation cases before the Executive Office for immigration Review, the body that oversees the nation’s immigration courts.

Doyle has been an outspoken critic of the agency and has led many lawsuits against it.

She is a graduate of the American University Washington School of Law, and George Washington University. She started her career as a legislative assistant to former U.S. Rep. Bob Wise (D-W.Va.), and became an attorney for Legal Services for Vietnamese Asylum Seekers in 1993. She was managing attorney for the International Institute of Boston from 1998 to 2001, before founding Graves & Doyle with partner William E. Graves Jr.

The Boston-based firm handled a breadth of immigration issues, from citizenship, to business and family immigration, federal litigation, asylum, and deportation cases.

Doyle took the case of Iranian student Mohammad Shahab Dehghani Hossein Abadi, who was enrolled at Northeastern University and deported because it was assumed by Logan Airport border patrol agents that he would remain in the U.S. beyond the time frame of his student visa. She co-authored an op-ed in The Boston Globe about Abadi’s case, entitled “Customs and Border Protection gone rogue.”

Doyle has also been particularly outspoken against ICE on Beacon Hill, including one appearance in January 2020, where she called ICE “out of control” during a hearing over the Safe Communities Act, which would limit how state and local municipalities interact with federal immigration enforcement.

Doyle declined to comment on her appointment, asking GBH to speak with ICE’s media office, which did not return requests for comment.

Susan Church of Demissie & Church has known and worked with Doyle for over two decades.

“She actually taught me much of what I know about immigration law,” said Church. “I can't imagine a better, more knowledgeable attorney to run that agency because she knows the immigration system in and out.”

Church and Doyle co-filed a 2017 federal lawsuit against former President Donald Trump with the American Civil Liberties Union after he banned entry to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The Office of the Principal Legal Advisor has control over whether immigrants are released from detention, what financial amounts — or bonds — are set for them to be released, or whether a lawsuit gets postponed.

“There will be a tremendous opportunity to craft policy procedures, rules and the like to make sure that immigrants receive a fair day in court and a fair hearing and have a fair shot at getting a life in the United States,” said Church.

Biden’s Department of Homeland Security has been criticized for continuing to keep immigrants detained with high bond amounts, but Church thinks Doyle’s appointment shows there may be a shift.

“I think it's clear that the Biden administration is following the path of the progressive district attorney and installing somebody in charge who cares about safety issues, but also cares deeply about the rights and the protections for immigrants,” she said, referring to the recent nomination of Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins to be the U.S. attorney.

Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, also applauded the pick. "We hope Kerry Doyle’s outstanding track record of fighting for immigrants’ rights continues in her new position at ICE," Rose said. But, she added, "the ACLU remains committed to holding this and other government agencies accountable."

The former principal legal advisor John D. Trasviña announced his retirement at the beginning of September.