Immigrant Rights Group Challenges DOJ Cease and Desist Order

Immigrant Rights Group Challenges DOJ Cease and Desist Order

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a “cease and desist” letter to the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), a legal aid agency in Washington state, which ordered the agency to stop assisting unrepresented immigrants in deportation proceedings. The DOJ letter reportedly relies on agency regulations issued in 2008, which require attorneys to enter formal notices of appearance if they provide legal assistance to anyone involved in deportation cases. Federal immigration courts, however, do not permit attorneys to enter limited notices of appearance; therefore, once an attorney enters a notice of appearance in a deportation proceeding, he or she is required to fully represent the immigrant throughout the deportation case. The DOJ cease and desist order is of particular importance to immigrants facing deportation proceedings, since there is no right to a public defender or legal representation in a deportation case. The vast majority of immigrants appearing in immigration court for deportation have no legal representation. When combined with NWIRP’s limited resources, the DOJ order could make it essentially impossible for immigrants to get any legal help in immigration court. While NWIRP does provide full legal representation in a small number of cases, the agency primarily offers limited assistance, usually in the form of helping individuals fill out applications for asylum, cancellation of removal, and family visas, filing motion to change venue, reopen removal proceedings, and to terminate deportation proceedings, and advise them on potential defenses and procedural requirements for moving forward with their cases. In response to the DOJ letter, NWIRP filed suit against DOJ, claiming that the cease and desist order violates their attorneys’ rights to free speech, thus impeding their ability to defend immigrant rights. NWIRP also claims that the regulation unlawfully interferes with the state’s authority to regulate their conduct as attorneys. A federal district court judge in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order in favor of NWIRP, which blocked the DOJ from enforcing its cease and desist order against NWIRP and similar groups nationwide. At Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C., we have represented the interests of countless clients in the state of California who are facing deportation proceedings, but who wish to remain with their families in the United States. Fortunately, there are many remedies that may be available if you are facing deportation charges. We will aggressively investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding your case, and help you settle upon the option that is best calculated to allow you and your family to live where you choose. Contact our experienced deportation defense attorneys today, and learn how we can help.
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