Resources on Litigation

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Asylum can be granted to noncitizens if they have a well-founded fear of persecution on account of their membership in a particular social group. But in recent years the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Attorney General have imposed increasingly complex requirements for proving a “social group.” In 2018, the Board of Immigration Appeals announced a policy that asylum applicants must give the Immigration Judge an “exact delineation” of the particular social group that their case is based on.

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Practice pointer summarizes the Matter of L-E-A- decision and gives practitioners tips on how to represent asylum seekers with family-based claims.

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CLINIC, together with 10 other nonprofit organizations that serve immigrant children, filed an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit in defense of critical protections for minors detained by the federal government pending their immigration proceedings.

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In light of shifting and non-transparent agency policies and practices in adjudicating Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) cases, CLINIC filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in May of 2018 seeking records concerning USCIS procedures for adjudicating SIJS petitions (Form I-360) and SIJS-based adjustment of status applications. When USCIS failed to respond to the FOIA request after more than a year, CLINIC, represented by Dorsey & Whitney LLP, brought a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, CLINIC v. USCIS, 8:19-cv-01511 (D. Md.

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Joined by Democracy Forward, CLINIC represents two asylum-seeking families and the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) in challenging the Trump administration’s policy directives that eviscerate protections for families fleeing persecution. On March 1, 2020, the federal District Court for the District of Columbia held that Cuccinelli’s appointment was unlawful and set aside the asylum directives.

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CLINIC joined with 17 other organizations that serve asylum seekers to urge the Ninth Circuit to uphold a preliminary injunction in favor of asylum seekers affected by Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) so-called “metering” policy.

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Represented by O’Melveny and Myers, LLP, CLINIC and twenty other faith-based organizations, including other Catholic groups, protestant groups, Jewish groups, and Muslim groups, have filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to strike down a federal criminal law that could lead to prosecutions for faith-related speech.

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CLINIC and other plaintiffs filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), certain DHS officers, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), seeking to enjoin the implementation of fee waiver changes. On Dec. 11, 2019, the Honorable Maxine M. Chesney, a District Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, granted the nationwide injunction, preventing USCIS from putting its proposed fee waiver changes into effect pending litigation.

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CLINIC filed suit on Nov. 22, 2019 challenging the implementation of the attorney general’s July 29, 2019 decision, Matter of L-E-A-, 27 I&N Dec. 581 (A.G. 2019), in the expedited removal context in credible and reasonable fear interviews. That decision overturned the part of the 2017 Board of Immigration Appeals decision in this case discussing whether Mr. L-E-A-’s proposed particular social group is cognizable.

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In September 2019, Defendants enacted new written policies designed to dismantle longstanding protections for asylum seekers who, like Plaintiffs, were targeted for persecution in their home countries because they are members of a particular family. These new policies deprive non-citizens in expedited removal proceedings of a meaningful opportunity to obtain asylum or withholding of removal based on their membership in a family-based particular social group (“PSG”)

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CLINIC, together with other immigrant-serving organizations and the City of Seattle, has sued United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, to block recent changes to its fee waiver policy. USCIS currently waives the naturalization fee for those who cannot afford to pay it, which is approximately 40 percent of applicants.

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CLINIC, along with several New York and national-level nonprofit organizations, filed suit on Aug. 27 in the federal court for the Southern District of New York to challenge the Trump administration’s final rule on public charge.

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On July 31, 2019, CLINIC joined eight other organizations that serve survivors of gender-based violence to submit an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C.

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CLINIC, along with Kids In Need of Defense, or KIND, Public Counsel, and Goodwin Procter on July 1, 2019, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. The suit challenges a new policy that limits the ability to seek asylum for certain children who arrived in the country alone. The lawsuit alleges that the policy by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services violates the plaintiffs' rights under the 5th Amendment, the Administrative Procedures Act, and the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.

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CLINIC and ASAP are also seeking long-term pro bono or “low bono” representation for the families in their asylum cases.

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Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. and Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project at the Urban Justice Center v. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services argues that the government has not been giving formerly separated families timely access to critical records in their immigration files.

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CLINIC has filed suit on behalf of a Miami grandmother and widow who is seeking to become a citizen of the United States.

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On March 12, 2019 CLINIC, joined by other faith-based organizations, submitted an amicus brief to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in the case O.L.B.D. v. Barr. In this case, Ms. O.L.B.D., a survivor of severe physical, sexual, and emotional abuse by her ex-husband, appeals the Board of Immigration Appeals denial of her asylum claim. The case presents a direct challenge to Matter of A-B-, 27 I&N Dec. 316 (A.G. 2018), the decision Jeff Sessions issued last summer which sought to greatly limit asylum eligibility for survivors of domestic violence and gang violence.

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As co-counsel to Mr. L-E-A-, CLINIC attorneys filed this brief with the Justice Department on Feb. 19, 2019. The client’s name and other identifying information has been redacted.

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Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher, LLP, represented CLINIC on an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs-appellees in Inland Empire – Immigrant Youth Collective, et al., v. Kirstjen Nielsen, et al. The plaintiffs-appellees challenge the government’s unlawful termination of their DACA without process on behalf of a class of DACA recipients.

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CLINIC has joined with Muslim Advocates and other faith partners as Amici Curiae, or friends of the court, in the Texas. v. Nielsen case challenging the constitutionality of the DACA program. The brief asks the court to deny Texas’s motion for preliminary injunction which would halt adjudication of all DACA cases. The case is scheduled to be heard in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on August 8, 2018.

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CLINIC, along with Public Counsel, filed this amicus brief on March 7, 2016 in Doe v. Sessions before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. This brief provided the court with a framework, drawn from our experience working with young asylum-seekers, to decide whether the coerced actions of a child can trigger the "serious nonpolitical crime" bar to asylum.

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The Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., filed an amicus brief April 27 challenging Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ effort to insert himself into a settled immigration case, the Matter of A-B. The attorney general’s unusual move could result in changes to long-settled immigration policy, making it harder for many asylum seekers -- notably those fleeing religion-based persecution – to obtain protection in the United States.

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USCCB, Catholic Charities USA and CLINIC have joined as Amici Curiae, or friends of the court, in the Donald J. Trump, et al. v. State of Hawaii, et al. case challenging the constitutionality of Presidential Proclamation No. 9645. This case is commonly referred to as the “travel ban” litigation. The brief asks the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the Executive Action as a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. The case is scheduled to be heard in the Supreme Court on April 25.

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USCCB, Catholic Charities USA and CLINIC have joined as Amici Curiae, or friends of the court, in the International Refugee Assistance Project, et al. v. Trump case challenging the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 13780. This case has been consolidated with Trump v. Hawaii and are collectively, commonly referred to as the “travel ban” litigation. The brief asks the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the Executive Order as a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. The case was scheduled to be heard Oct.

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In response to the June 9, 2016 amicus invitation by the Board of Immigration Appeals on the definition of a minor for purposes of the asylum one-year filing deadline, CLINIC and Public Counsel submitted this briefing arguing that a minor should be defined as youth under 21.   

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U.S. Immigration Courts and Circuit Courts of Appeal for your reference.