FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 2021
Federal Court Blocks Dramatic Immigration Courts Fee Increases
WASHINGTON — A federal court Monday blocked nearly all of a Trump administration rule that would have drastically increased fees in immigration proceedings in which the government seeks to deport immigrants, many of whom are long-term residents of the U.S.
The fee-increase rule, scheduled to take effect today, would have increased the filing fees for applications, appeals, and motions in removal proceedings by as much as nearly 800 percent. The substantial increases would have immediately denied access to justice for economically disadvantaged individuals seeking a fair day in court.
The National Immigration Law Center, the American Immigration Council, and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher challenged the rule. The lawsuit, CLINIC v. EOIR, was filed on behalf of immigrants’ rights organizations and legal services providers Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto (CLSEPA), and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA).
The following reaction is from:
Lisa Graybill, legal director, National Immigration Law Center: “We are glad the court has intervened to halt the outgoing Trump administration’s unlawful last-ditch effort to price immigrants facing deportation out of due process. We urge the incoming administration to take all necessary steps to reverse these ill-conceived measures and give everyone facing deportation a fair day in court.”
Kate Melloy Goettel, legal director, litigation, American Immigration Council: “Yet again, the court rejected the administration’s shoddy rule-making, this time halting a pernicious rule that would have imposed a ‘wealth test’ on immigrants seeking a fair day in court. Without today’s ruling, the new fees would have meant increased deportations for many low-income immigrants for no other reason than their inability to afford access to the courts.”
Michelle Mendez, director, Defending Vulnerable Populations program, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc: “CLINIC, our affiliates, and our clients welcome this preliminary injunction as a much-needed moment of pause. It is not easy for low-income people to navigate the legal system, let alone as immigrants confronted by the incredibly complex immigration system, where the stakes are so high. The outcomes of their removal cases literally determine whether they can remain in this country, contributing to their families and communities, or be forced to leave their homes and loved ones forever. Sometimes, the outcomes literally mean the difference between life and death. Raising the price of access to immigration court would deny justice to many human beings, and we are grateful that this unjust act has been stopped, for now. The court recognized that the proposed fee increases would prejudice immigrants’ access to counsel, and delay or deny them justice.”
Richard Mark, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP: “The court’s decision recognizes that Congress intended for pro bono and low-cost legal services to be available to assist people facing removal proceedings. As a consequence, when EOIR sought to increase fees, it was obligated to respond to concerns about the impact of fee increases on these providers ‘in a meaningful way, not blithely dismiss them as outside the limited scope of this rulemaking.’” Added Joseph Evall, also of Gibson Dunn: “The court concluded that EOIR’s failure to consider these important concerns violated the Administrative Procedure Act. And because the increased fees would cause harm throughout the country, the court entered a nationwide injunction, rejecting defendants’ efforts to cabin the relief just to plaintiffs.”
The court’s ruling is available at https://www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/CLINIC-v-EOIR-opinion-and-order-2021-01-18.pdf.
Plaintiffs’ litigation team includes Katherine Melloy Goettel and Emma Winger of the American Immigration Council; Robin Goldfaden, Michelle Lapointe, and Meredith Cabell of the National Immigration Law Center; and Richard Mark, Joseph Evall, Katherine Marquart, Anthony Moreno, Laura Mumm, Julianne Duran, Vladimir Semendyai, Alexandra Perloff-Giles, Ramona Lin, Josh Obear, Nanding Chen, Jialin Yang, and Kevin Reilly of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.
Founded in 1979, the National Immigration Law Center is the leading advocacy organization in the United States exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their loved ones. NILC’s mission is grounded in the belief that everyone living in the U.S. — regardless of race, gender/gender identity, immigration, and economic status — should have equal access to justice, resources, and educational and economic opportunities that enable them to achieve their full human potential. NILC is committed to advancing its mission — which intersects race, immigration status, and class — through a racial, economic, and gender justice and equity orientation. NILC seeks to achieve just laws and policies that address systemic inequities, create narrative and culture change for an inclusive and equitable society, and build a healthier and more powerful movement.
The American Immigration Council works to strengthen America by shaping how America thinks about and acts towards immigrants and immigration and by working toward a more fair and just immigration system that opens its doors to those in need of protection and unleashes the energy and skills that immigrants bring. The Council brings together problem solvers and employs four coordinated approaches to advance change — litigation, research, legislative and administrative advocacy, and communications. Follow the latest Council news and information on ImmigrationImpact.com and Twitter @immcouncil.