Litigation Update: Harmful DOJ Rule Enjoined

On March 10, 2021, Senior District Judge Susan Illston from the U.S. District Court of Northern District of California granted a preliminary injunction in the case Centro Legal de La Raza et al v. EOIR et al, challenging the harmful DOJ rule severely limiting sua sponte motions in immigration court proceedings and curtailing the use of administrative closure as docket management tool, among other harmful provisions.

ASISTA and our partners submitted an amicus brief in support of the Plaintiffs, Centro Legal de La Raza, Tahirih Justice Center, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and RAICES, who were represented by Sidley Austin, LLP, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, and Lakin & Wille LLP. 

Our amicus demonstrated the impact that eliminating administrative closure would have on survivors. The Court found that the plaintiffs “are likely to succeed on their claim that the agencies did not engage in reasoned decision-making when formulating the Rule . . . including that the changes implemented by the Rule will foreclose noncitizens from seeking humanitarian relief to which they may be entitled and will result in the deportation of noncitizens who have meritorious claims for relief.”

The order directly cites our amicus brief, including the significant U visa wait times, and references how the briefs submitted “provide numerous specific real-life examples of how administrative closure has been used in cases to allow survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking, including children, to pursue claims for relief before USCIS and state court.

Judge Illston’s order enjoins EOIR from implementing or enforcing the rule pending final adjudication of the case, to take effect immediately. The impact of this order signifies that immigration judges and BIA members continue to have the authority to reopen proceedings  sua sponte, and that the broad pre-January 15, 2021 regulatory language at 8 C.F.R. 1003.10(b) (held to permit administrative closure in Zuniga-Romero v. Barr and Meza-Morales v. Barr) remains in effect. 

We are grateful for the incredible work of our pro bono team at Morgan Lewis & Bockius, LLP on our amicus brief. In addition, we’re grateful to the plaintiffs and representatives in this litigation as well as the efforts of those involved in challenging this harmful rule in the D.C. District Court, including National Immigrant Justice Center, CLINIC, HAIS, Brooklyn Defender Service, FIRRP, and Democracy Forward.

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