DVP Updated Resources

As we continue to see changes to immigration law at a rapid pace, CLINIC’s Defending Vulnerable Populations Program, DVP, has responded through a multi-pronged strategy. 

Litigation—In November we brought a federal lawsuit, SAP v. Barr, challenging  implementation by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of the recent attorney general decision, Matter of L-E-A-, a case on which CLINIC is counsel. In SAP, we challenge USCIS guidance instructing asylum officers that “ordinary” families will generally not qualify as a particular social group for asylum purposes. We filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in the case, which is pending in the District Court of the District of Columbia. Over the past year, CLINIC has engaged in impact litigation both as counsel and as an organizational plaintiff. See our litigation webpage for more information. 

Individual Federal Litigation— DVP’s Federal Litigation Attorney Bradley Jenkins has won cases in federal court on behalf of individuals who had exhausted their remedies before USCIS. For example, Jenkins co-counseled with Whitney Untiedt of Freidin Brown, P.A. to file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida after USCIS unlawfully refused citizenship to a qualified applicant. That qualified applicant, a Haitian grandmother, became a U.S. citizen on Sept. 13, 2019, after USCIS agreed to settle the case. Untiedt attended the naturalization oath ceremony and said, “I have never been prouder to be a lawyer than the day I attended my client’s citizenship swearing-in ceremony.”

Amicus Support—DVP provides amicus support on various matters. Most recently, CLINIC and 20 other faith-based organizations, including other Catholic, Protestant Jewish and Muslim groups, filed an amicus brief in United States v. Sineneng-Smith. The brief urges the Supreme Court to strike down a federal criminal law that could lead to prosecutions for faith-related speech. The law in question makes it a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, for anyone who “encourages or induces” someone to reside in the United States in reckless disregard of whether that person has lawful status. The amicus brief argues that legal and advocacy work, as well as providing food and shelter social services to noncitizens, could result in prosecution under this law. The faith organizations argue that the court should strike down the law as it forces those who are moved by their faith to help others to choose between the tenets of their faith and potentially committing a felony. 

Practice Advisories—DVP recently released a practice advisory on Post-Departure Motions to Reopen and Reconsider, which gives practitioners a broad understanding of this complicated area of the law and includes a useful chart of circuit law cases on the topic. We also released two resources on USCIS changes that affect applicants for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status—an advisory on changes to the USCIS Policy Manual implemented in November 2019 and a practice alert on proposed SIJS regulations and Administrative Appeals Office decisions affecting SIJS. And we updated our practice advisory on Strategies and Considerations in the Wake of the Pereira decision.

DVP also continues to update and reissue the Index of Unpublished Administrative Appeals Office Decisions on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, available by request. Look for the next update in the coming week. For further resources by topic, please visit our resources webpage

Regulations—The administration has been publishing proposed comments that will significantly undermine vulnerable populations’ rights, particularly asylum seekers. DVP wrote CLINIC’s comments: 1) opposing proposed regulations that expand criminal bars to asylum eligibility; 2) on a rule that will eliminate a 30-day processing requirement for asylum-based employment authorization applications; and 3) on a proposed rule that would restrict SIJS eligibility for vulnerable children. We also submitted comments urging the withdrawal of an interim final regulation already in effect, on Asylum Cooperative Agreements, which allows the U.S. government to send U.S. asylum seekers to Northern Triangle countries to pursue their claims. 

Trial Skills Trainings—DVP continues our partnership with the National Institute for Trial Advocacy to offer a three-day intensive, immigration court skills training. If you are interested in this invaluable training, please apply to attend our next training in Boulder, Colorado, March 17-19, 2020. If you are unable to join this training, NITA-CLINIC will offer additional trainings throughout the year. CLINIC will also offer a three-day intensive, immigration court skills training for California Department of Social Services grantees in the fall.