Debevoise, Democracy Forward, RAICES and CLINIC Announce Milestone Victory

6 March 2020

In a milestone victory, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, working with Democracy Forward, The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) on behalf of RAICES and five Honduran asylum seekers, prevailed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, setting aside policy directives regarding the asylum-seeking process that curtailed the rights of asylum seekers and led to improper removal orders issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Court found that the Trump administration illegally appointed Ken Cuccinelli to serve as Acting Director of USCIS, and therefore Cuccinelli “lacked authority” to issue the directives, which were exclusive functions of the director’s office. The Court voided as “invalid and without legal force or effect” the two immigration directives Cuccinelli issued that eviscerate important legal protections for asylum seekers. The Court’s ruling that Cuccinelli was illegally appointed raises serious questions about the legality of removal orders issued to other asylum seekers under the same directives, and other actions Cuccinelli has undertaken as well.

It has been reported that USCIS asylum officers have already been directed to stop applying the directives.

Democracy Forward helps expose the rampant corruption in the Executive Branch and fight it in court on behalf of the people it hurts.

RAICES is a nonprofit that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families and refugees in Central and South Texas.

CLINIC promotes the dignity and protects the rights of immigrants in partnership with their network of immigration legal services providers.

The Debevoise team was led by litigation counsel James Amler, associate Tara P. Ganapathy and law clerk Samuel Gelb.

Debevoise provides a wide array of pro bono legal services to marginalized communities and underserved populations on matters ranging from landmark international and national disputes to representations of low-income individuals. We also partner with clients on a range of corporate, litigation and tax pro bono matters in clinic settings and individual matters.