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Case Name Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center v. Trump IM-OR-0010
Docket / Court 3:19-cv-02051 ( D. Or. )
State/Territory Oregon
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Take Care
Attorney Organization Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: The SPLC, Innovation Law Lab, Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. and Santa Fe Dreamers Project filed for an emergency temporary restraining order challenging the continued operation of the immigration ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: The SPLC, Innovation Law Lab, Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. and Santa Fe Dreamers Project filed for an emergency temporary restraining order challenging the continued operation of the immigration courts despite the current public health crisis. On April 1, 2020, Judge Karin J. Immergut denied the plaintiffs' motion, finding the relief requested to be too attenuated from the claims underlying the plaintiffs' initial complaint. On July 31, the court granted in part and denied in part the defendant's motion to dismiss.


On December 18, 2019, six immigration legal service providers filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, alleging that the federal government had manipulated the immigration adjudication system in a way that makes it virtually impossible for asylum seekers to win their cases. The organizations (Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., Innovation Law Lab, Santa Fe Dreamers Project, and Southern Poverty Law Center), sued President Trump, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), under the U.S. Constitution, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Represented by Innovation Law Lab, Southern Poverty Law Center, and private counsel, the plaintiffs alleged violations of the Take Care Clause of the U.S. Constitution, as well as provisions of the INA and the APA. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief. The case was assigned to Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants had abused their authority to perpetuate “asylum-free zones”—immigration court jurisdictions where asylum is virtually impossible to win, thus nullifying the U.S. asylum statutory scheme. The plaintiffs also claimed that by burdening the immigration courts with a backlog of more than a million cases, the defendants had undermined fairness in the system and impaired the INA’s case-by-case decision-making process. Finally, the plaintiffs alleged that by implementing new performance metrics for immigration judges (the Metrics Policy) and a rapid-removal family docketing directive (the FAMU Directive), the defendants had impaired the impartiality of immigration judges and undermined the fairness of proceedings for recently-arrived families. As immigration legal service providers, the plaintiffs stated that the defendants’ efforts had denied them a fair forum in which to vindicate their organization missions.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss on March 20, 2020.

On March 27, the plaintiffs filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In their request, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants’ actions in response to the pandemic had turned the immigration court system into a public health hazard. Specifically, they claimed that the defendants were continuing to require attorneys, respondents, judges, and staff to appear in person at many immigration courts, refusing to extend deadlines despite the danger associated with compliance, failing to provide adequate notice of emergency court closures and procedures, and ordering immigration judges to fast-track cases to completion (i.e. deportation) in the absence of respondents and counsel.

The plaintiffs sought a temporary injunction under the All Writs Act to require the defendants to take reasonable steps to the protect public health in the immigration courts, including: no longer compelling respondents to appear in person or holding hearings without the consent of the respondent or their counsel, no longer invoking in absentia procedures to order removal in cases where respondents fail to appear, tolling deadlines, waiving certain filing requirements, and allowing attorneys not to appear in person without being held in contempt.

The same day, the case was reassigned to Judge Karin J. Immergut.

A group of former immigration judges and members of the Board of Immigration Appeals filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs’ request for a TRO on March 30, 2020.

On April 1, 2020, Judge Immergut denied the plaintiffs’ motion. In an April 2 order, she explained that the relief sought by the plaintiffs was too attenuated from the claims alleged in their complaint to sustain their burden for a temporary injunction under the All Writs Act. Judge Immergut also noted that the defendants demonstrated that they had taken significant steps to reduce in-person contacts and modify immigration court functions in the wake of the pandemic. Consequently, she did not find it necessary to grant the sweeping relief sought by the plaintiffs.

On July 31, the court granted in part and denied in part the defendant's motion to dismiss, dismissing the plaintiffs' claims that seek enjoinder of “asylum-free zones”—i.e. immigration courts with unusually high rates of denials for asylum applications— for lack of jurisdiction. 2020 WL 4431682. However, all of the remaining claims were allowed to proceed.

The defendants sought reconsideration on September 4. They argued that the court lacks jurisdiction over claims arising from or relating to removal proceedings, and that such claims should be directed to the (petition-for-review) PFR process. The defendants also claimed that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

The defendants' motion for reconsideration was denied on September 15, as it repeats and expounds upon arguments previously made without a new basis for reconsideration. The district court also noted that is bound by Ninth Circuit precedent, East Bay Sanctuary Covenant v. Trump, which recognized organizational standing for immigration services organizations where they can establish their own injury. The court also found that it has jurisdiction because the plaintiffs' asserted injuries do not arise from any removal proceeding and are not cognizable under the petition-for-review process.

The case is ongoing.

Sam Kulhanek - 04/02/2020
Averyn Lee - 09/17/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Immigration/Border
Asylum - criteria
Asylum - procedure
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Mitigation Denied
COVID-19 Mitigation Requested
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Non-profit religious organization
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of Justice
Plaintiff Description Six immigration legal service providers
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Southern Poverty Law Center
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 12/18/2019
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Las Americas v. Trump
Innovation Law Lab
Date: March 27, 2020
By: Tess Hellgren
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
3:19-cv-02051-IM (D. Or.)
IM-OR-0010-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/16/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
IM-OR-0010-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/18/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 28]
IM-OR-0010-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/27/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 52] (2020 WL 1671584) (D. Or.)
IM-OR-0010-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/02/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Response in Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 57]
IM-OR-0010-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/24/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief of Amici Former Immigration Judges and Members of Board of Immigration Appeals [ECF# 62]
IM-OR-0010-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/08/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Reply in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 68]
IM-OR-0010-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/29/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order [ECF# 79] (2020 WL 4431682) (D. Or.)
IM-OR-0010-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/31/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Motion to Reconsider [ECF# 84]
IM-OR-0010-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/04/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Immergut, Karin Johanna (D. Or.) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-0003 | IM-OR-0010-0007 | IM-OR-0010-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Beel, Bryan D (Oregon) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-0001 | IM-OR-0010-0002 | IM-OR-0010-0004 | IM-OR-0010-9000
Brenner, Alletta S (Oregon) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-9000
Cassler, Rebecca (Georgia) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-0001 | IM-OR-0010-0002 | IM-OR-0010-9000
Crow, Melissa E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-0001 | IM-OR-0010-0002 | IM-OR-0010-9000
Cunnings, Jordan (Oregon) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-0001 | IM-OR-0010-0002 | IM-OR-0010-9000
Dahab, Nadia H. (Oregon) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-0001 | IM-OR-0010-0002 | IM-OR-0010-9000
Hellgren, Tess (Oregon) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-0001 | IM-OR-0010-0002 | IM-OR-0010-9000
Johnson, Thomas R. (Oregon) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-0004 | IM-OR-0010-9000
Manning, Stephen W. (Oregon) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-0001 | IM-OR-0010-0002 | IM-OR-0010-9000
Morales, Nathan R (Oregon) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-0001 | IM-OR-0010-0002 | IM-OR-0010-0004 | IM-OR-0010-9000
Parker, Christopher G. (California) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-0002 | IM-OR-0010-9000
Stoller, Heidee (Oregon) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-0001 | IM-OR-0010-0002 | IM-OR-0010-0004 | IM-OR-0010-9000
Willis, Gracie Harper (Georgia) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-0001 | IM-OR-0010-0002 | IM-OR-0010-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Davis, Ethan P. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-0008
Hunt, Joseph H. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-0006
Peachey, William Charles (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-0006 | IM-OR-0010-0008
Reuveni, Erez (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-0006 | IM-OR-0010-0008 | IM-OR-0010-9000
Ward, Brian Christopher (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-0006 | IM-OR-0010-0008 | IM-OR-0010-9000
Other Lawyers Berne, Gary M. (Oregon) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-0005 | IM-OR-0010-9000
Dubanevich, Keith S. (Oregon) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-0005 | IM-OR-0010-9000
Hoesly, Cody B (Oregon) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-9000
Mueller, Keil M. (Oregon) show/hide docs
IM-OR-0010-0005 | IM-OR-0010-9000

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