Federal Court Stays Unlawful Trump-Era Rule Restricting Immigrants’ Access to Justice

WASHINGTON — On Sunday, in response to a lawsuit brought by five immigrant justice groups, a federal court stayed an unlawful Trump-era rule that severely restricts immigrants’ access to justice in immigration court. 

The rule, issued by Trump’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) — the Department of Justice (DOJ) office that runs the nation’s immigration courts — upends existing procedures within EOIR’s immigration court system, especially those governing EOIR’s Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). It unlawfully deprives immigrants of access to a full and fair hearing, limits their right to present evidence and to select legal counsel of their choosing, and eliminates essential means of securing immigration relief. 

The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS), Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project (FIRRP), HIAS (founded as Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), and the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) challenged the unlawful rule in federal court on January 11 and filed a motion to stay the rule on February 1. NIJC and Democracy Forward represent the plaintiffs.

In staying the rule, the federal court “agree[d]” that the 30-day comment period on the rule “is likely insufficient to provide a meaningful opportunity to comment on a highly technical and complex regulation.” The court affirmed that the groups “have shown likely irreparable harm absent a stay” and stated that a return to the status quo “will best balance the equities at stake and serve the public interest.”

In response, the groups issued the following statement:

“The Trump administration’s sweeping rule unlawfully denies immigrants a fair hearing in court and impedes immigrant advocates’ ability to represent and advocate for them. We sued to prevent the devastating changes to immigration court procedure from taking effect. We’re grateful that our lawsuit has prompted the court to stay the rule as we continue our legal fight to permanently set it aside.”

Learn more about the unlawful rule and its harms here. The rule was likewise enjoined nationwide as a result of a similar lawsuit on March 10, 2021. 


Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that represents organizations, individuals, and municipalities in impact litigation to keep corruption out of policymaking.

The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., or CLINIC, advocates for humane and just immigration policy. Its network of nonprofit immigration programs — more than 370 affiliates in 49 states and the District of Columbia — is the largest in the nation. CLINIC provides substantive legal and program management training and resources, as well as advocacy support at state, local and national levels. 

Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) is a public defender organization serving tens of thousands of Brooklyn residents each year since 1996. Our mission is to provide high-quality and client-centered criminal, family, immigration, and civil legal representation, as well as social work support and advocacy for people who cannot afford an attorney.

The Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project is the largest organization in Arizona providing free legal and social services to detained adults and children facing removal proceedings, through direct service, partnerships within the community, and advocacy and outreach efforts. 

HIAS is a Jewish humanitarian organization that provides vital services to refugees and asylum seekers in 16 countries. We advocate for the rights of all forcibly displaced people to rebuild their lives. Together, we can create a world in which refugees find welcome, safety, and freedom. 

The National Immigrant Justice Center is a nongovernmental organization dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers through a unique combination of direct services, policy reform, impact litigation, and public education.