“Help” by Tsai Project

July 24, 2017; U.S. News & World Report

Saying that recent restrictions handed down from the Department of Justice violate the First Amendment rights of immigrant-serving nonprofits, U.S. District Court judge Richard Jones, by way of a temporary injunction, ruled that nonprofit legal groups can keep assisting immigrants facing deportation even if they do not subsequently represent them in court. This was an important decision for groups all across the country that serve the legal needs of immigrants.

The Justice Department informed the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project by way of a cease and desist letter sent in April that it was not allowed to provide certain legal assistance to immigrants unless it intended to follow through with court representation. NWIRP sued the Justice Department and AG Sessions.

Steven Hsieh, writing for the Stranger, says this effectively signals “to nonprofits nationwide that they’re free to help undocumented immigrants without going through the process of formally signing onto the case of every person that they advocate for. Thirty-two different legal organizations and nonprofits signed declarations and letters of support saying the policy would impede their ability to help immigrants.”

“During this unprecedented time of increased immigration detention and deportation of immigrants by the Trump Administration, thousands of immigrants who cannot afford an attorney rely on legal advice to help them as they face deportation,” said NWIRP executive director Jorge L. Barón. “Today’s victory grants them a better opportunity to seek justice.”—Ruth McCambridge