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Organizations Can Continue Helping Immigrants with Legal Documents
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Summary: A federal judge blocked an order against organizations helping immigrants with legal documents that were not fully representing them.

The Justice Department issued a cease-and-desist letter to an immigration legal rights organization that a Seattle federal judge has blocked. U.S. District Judge Richard Jones temporarily blocked the government from preventing organizations from providing assistance to immigrants without fully representing them.


Immigration legal rights organizations claimed the restrictions by the Justice Department would affect the work they do to help those with deportation cases. The Northwest Immigration Rights Project filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department’s restrictions. They received the cease-and-desist letter last month from the government requiring them to stop providing legal assistance to immigrants unless they became their formal representatives in court. The organization claims to not have the resources to be formal representatives that hold intensive investigations and remain involved in the case until it is resolved.

The order by the government wanted all similar groups across the nation to stop preparing legal documents on behalf of immigrants that were representing themselves. They were preparing motions and other related documents.

Judge Jones found that the order violated the organizations constitutional rights to free speech, association and to petition the government. He found that the petition would limit the work they could do and that many immigrants would go without any legal help since they are not entitled to an attorney. He prohibited the Justice Department from sending letters to other similar organizations.

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The department’s Executive Office of Immigration Review issued the order under a rule instated in 2008 that was designed to prevent attorney misconduct and “notario” fraud, where those unauthorized to practice law advertised themselves as able to help immigrants with their legal status.

DOJ attorney Victor Mercado-Santana argued that the rule was a legitimate right of the government to regulate the lawyers appearing in immigration court for the purpose of being able to sanction them for any misconduct. However, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project includes its involvement on any motions they field on behalf of an immigrant so that the courts can easily trace them. They are also one of the organizations responsible for suing to block President Trump’s travel ban.

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project attorneys argued that the order would drive more people to be “notarios” because they want to ensure that immigrants receive legal counsel. James Harlan Corning said, “Immigrants will be deprived of legal services and they will have no place else to turn. Of course the ideal would be to provide full representation to every immigrant in every setting. … We don’t live in that world.”

The state Attorney General’s Office and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington support Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

Do you think the Trump administration will be able to get anything successfully done during his term or will judges find a way to block everything? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about President Trump’s travel ban, read these articles:




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