COURT TEMPORARILY HALTS HEALTH CARE BAN

DOWNLOAD THE ORDER HERE

PRESS CONTACTS:

Justice Action Center: Christine Chen, christine@christinechen.com

American Immigration Lawyers Association: Belle Woods, bwoods@aila.org

Innovation Law Lab: Ramon Valdez, ramon@innovationlawlab.org 

Civil Rights Coalition Halts Implementation of Presidential Proclamation Requiring Health Insurance

November 2, 2019  – Today, litigators from the Justice Action Center (JAC), the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and the Innovation Law Lab, with Sidley Austin LLP providing pro bono assistance, successfully halted implementation of the administration’s attempt to ban immigrants based on their ability to obtain health insurance upon arrival to the U.S. 

The temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the U.S. District Court in Portland, OR, has stopped the federal government from implementing the policy. This is not the end of the process as the court considers the full merits of the case, Doe v. Trump, in the coming days and weeks.

Carmen Rubio, Executive Director of Latino Network, a plaintiff in the case said, “We are encouraged by the court’s decision to issue the TRO that we requested along with the other plaintiffs across the country.  Today’s decision highlights the urgency of blocking this health care ban before it causes irreparable damage to our community and those we serve. We know that our fight is far from over, we will be steadfast in our work to ensure that we end family separation, ensure the dignity and rights of our community are respected, and hold this administration accountable to our nation’s constitution.”  

Stephen Manning, Executive Director of Innovation Law Lab, noted, “Oregon’s and our nation’s collective prosperity depends on the rule of law; the court’s decision protects the rule of law and families across the nation by halting President Trump’s harmful proclamation.”

“We’re very grateful that the court recognized the need to block the health care ban immediately,” says Justice Action Center Senior Litigator Esther Sung, who argued at today’s hearing on behalf of the plaintiffs. “The ban would separate families and cut two-thirds of green-card-based immigration starting tonight, were the ban not stopped. It’s egregious that President Trump is attempting to flout the will of Congress and squeeze through a complete overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws without anyone noticing. Our fight will continue — we will stand with our plaintiffs and all immigrants to challenge this unjust health care ban.”

Jesse Bless, Director of Federal Litigation at AILA said, “We applaud the court’s ruling; countless thousands across the country can breathe a sigh of relief today because the court recognized the urgent and irreparable harm that would have been inflicted in the absence of a TRO. This proclamation would permanently separate families and damage employers; it is a clear violation of the constitution. The president simply does not have the authority to rewrite the law by proclamation.” 

Innovation Law Lab Summer Clerk 2020 Application

Learn for social justice.  Advocate for social justice.  Litigate for social justice.

Innovation Law Lab seeks clerks to work advancing the human rights of immigrants and refugees.  The clerkship provides an opportunity for law students to work directly with clients and get hands-on experience with impact litigation.  Past clerks worked on nationwide-precedent setting cases, engaged in civil rights litigation, developed programs for massive collaborative representation of asylum-seekers, and researched and wrote important reports on local and national immigrant rights issues.

The Summer Clerkship is a temporary position lasting at least 10 weeks.  The start date is usually in late May or early June. The length of the position and start dates are flexible.  Clerks can expect to work full-time. We expect to hire for at least two positions. One position will be based on Law Lab’s main office in Portland, Oregon; one position will be based in El Paso, Texas and will be hosted by the El Paso Immigration Collaborative (EPIC), of which Law Lab is a founding participant.   

Housing and moving expenses are the clerk’s responsibility. A stipend may be available; Innovation Law Lab will also work with the Clerk to seek funding from other sources as necessary.  

The deadline to submit your application for the Clerk 2020 position is Friday, November 15, 2019 at midnight, PST.  All the details are available below.

Application submission instructions

We try to make this process straightforward and not super-time consuming but rigorous enough so we can get the critical information we need from each applicant. If you have questions about the submission process, email them to jobs@innovationlawlab.org. 

Gather these things together:

  1. A law school transcript (unofficial or official, it doesn’t matter)
  2. A resume (the resume does not need to adhere to our general resume guidelines; it should, however, be as complete as possible)
  3. A cover letter. Your cover letter must: (1) Explain your commitment to social justice, or (2) Detail any past experience you have working with immigrant communities. You should also describe how you have used your English and Spanish or other language abilities in your cover letter.
  4. A writing sample – it should be your own work and words written during your law school tenure.
  5. Email (1), (2), (3) and (4)  in PDF format to jobs@innovationlawlab.org by midnight PST November 15, 2019.

Things happen quickly after submission. We anticipate conducting interviews and making an offer by December 16, 2019.

Advocates Ask Oregon Courts to Ban ICE Arrests at Courthouses

The Oregon Uniform Trial Court Rules Committee hearing will be live streamed at 2 p.m. Friday.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 18, 2019

Media Contacts: 
Ramon Valdez, Innovation Law Lab, ramon@innovationlawlab.org, m – 971.238-1804
Sarah Armstrong, ACLU of Oregon, sarmstrong@aclu-or.org, m – 503.756.3147;

SALEM, Ore. — Attorneys with the ACLU of Oregon, Innovation Law Lab, and Stoll Berne will ask Oregon’s Uniform Trial Court Rules Committee Friday to adopt a rule prohibiting civil immigration arrests in and around Oregon’s state courthouses without a judicial warrant. The attorneys submitted the proposed rule on behalf of immigrants’ rights and court advocates including Adelante Mujeres, Causa Oregon, Immigration Counseling Service, Metropolitan Public Defender, Northwest Workers’ Justice Project, Unite Oregon, and the Victim Rights Law Center. 

“ICE intrusions in and around Oregon courthouses jeopardize the court’s ability to administer justice as required under the Oregon Constitution,” said Nadia Dahab, attorney at Stoll Berne. “Fear of deportation keeps immigrants from reporting crimes and participating in court proceedings.”

VIDEO: Watch the ACLU’s video which reveals ICE activity in Oregon courts, spotlighting incidents at courts in Clackamas, Clatsop, Multnomah, and Washington counties.

In years prior, immigration enforcement prioritized the removal of persons convicted of serious crimes. However, in 2017, the President Trump issued two executive orders making anyone subject to removal a priority for immigration enforcement. Since then, as part of its mass deportation campaign, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has included state courthouses as a focus for conducting immigration enforcement. 

In Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Washington, courts recognized the harm caused by immigration enforcement at courthouses and limited or  blocked ICE from conducting courthouse arrests. In California, a law was signed this week that will prohibit ICE arrests at courts.

“Courthouses should be a ‘sensitive location’ where immigration enforcement is generally disallowed like hospitals and schools,” said Leland Baxter-Neal, staff attorney at the ACLU of Oregon. “It is in the interest of every Oregonian that our courthouses are a place where individuals, regardless of immigration status, can come to seek protection, file a lawsuit, or attend a court appearance.”

In their request, the lawyers write that ICE enforcement at state courthouses has an “impact on the individuals arrested, their families, and the community’s view of Oregon’s courts as safe and accessible places…every time a community member is forcibly taken by ICE from the courthouse, thousands of individuals begin to feel the very real threat that they might be next.”

“We have heard from so many people who are afraid that if they go to court, even just to pay their parking tickets or be a witness, they may be separated from their family,” said Cristina Delgado, the Immigrant Solidarity Project Coordinator for Adelante Mujeres. 

Last year, the same groups petitioned Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court Martha Walters to protect the safety, welfare, and trust of Oregon’s immigrant community by issuing a rule blocking immigration civil arrests at courthouses. Over 750 Oregon lawyers sent their own letter to the Chief Justice in support of the change, including Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill, the president of the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association, and the executive directors of the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, Oregon Law Center, and Legal Aid Services of Oregon. Similarly, the 1,400-member lawyers’ organization, Oregon Women Lawyers (OWLS) and over 300 faith leaders from across the state through the through the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice (IMIrJ) also sent letters to the Chief Justice requesting she issue a rule blocking ICE arrests at Oregon’s courts. 

”As people of faith and conscience, we have a moral obligation to work for justice for all people, ensuring that no matter the situation, people feel safe to seek justice without fear. We need to stop ICE from targeting our courthouses,” said Rev. Adam Hange, United Church of Christ pastor from Washington County and leader with IMIrJ.

The ACLU of Oregon says since 2017, hundreds  of volunteers from the ACLU and community groups have been trained as courthouse legal observers in Oregon. The blue-vested volunteers regularly observe court proceedings and accompany people to court. They have documented federal immigration agents in plainclothes sitting in on county court proceedings and following people out or waiting inside the hallways or on the grounds. The legal observers have witnessed numerous courthouse arrests, including at least one arrest inside a courtroom and multiple arrests in which ICE agents are physically violent. The ICE agents generally have refused to present any warrant for making an arrest, or to provide individuals with access to an attorney, even if one is present.  

“It is terrifying when people in street clothes are grabbing community members from inside and outside the courthouse, stuffing them in unmarked cars, and speeding off,” said Cristina Marquez, interim executive director of Causa Oregon. “These agents don’t answer questions and they don’t produce any documents. What is the difference between what they are doing and a kidnapping?”

The volunteer legal observers also documented the detention of a Latino U.S. citizen and Washington County worker, Isidro Andrade-Tafolla, outside of Washington County Court in 2017. Video of the incident, captured on the ACLU of Oregon’s Mobile Justice app, was widely reported on and viewed across the country. Following the incident, Representative Suzanne Bonamici and Washington County Sheriff Pat Garret criticized ICE’s practices, and Senators Wyden and Merkely called for a congressional inquiry. The agency cleared its agents of wrong-doing and did not apologize to Andrade-Tafolla. In August, Andrade-Tafolla filed an administrative complaint against the agency, seeking $100,000 for “humiliation, emotional distress, and psychological harm” as a result of ICE’s actions that day.

The ACLU of Oregon filed a FOIA request in 2017 seeking documents relating to ICE arrests at state courthouses and ICE’s communications with local government bodies and law enforcement. In August, DHS concluded production releasing more than 35,000 documents to the group. Review of the heavily-redacted and voluminous documents is ongoing, but the ACLU of Oregon says they have found that since 2017, ICE has executed or planned courthouse intrusions at state courthouses serving Clackamas, Clatsop, Gilliam, Hood River, Josephine, Lane, Lincoln, Marion, Morrow, Multnomah, Sherman, Wasco, Wheeler, Umatilla, Washington, and Yamhill counties and at the municipal courts in Beaverton and Molalla. Those courthouses combined serve nearly three million Oregonians or 71 percent of the state’s residents.

Statewide Expansion of Oregon’s Universal Representation Program For Immigrants Begins

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 30, 2019

Portland, OR ー On October 01, 2019, the Equity Corps of Oregon, a trailblazing universal representation program that provides lawyers for immigrants in removal proceedings who cannot afford private legal representation, will begin providing legal services statewide. Equity Corps launched on October 1, 2018 with support from the City of Portland and Multnomah County, but is now able to expand statewide thanks to the State of Oregon’s $2 million investment in the innovative program. 

Legal defense for those facing deportation proceedings remains an urgent need throughout Oregon.  In a 2018 survey conducted by the Oregon Law Foundation, 70% of participants identified immigration as a civil legal issue that had a very or extremely negative effect on their lives. Unlike in criminal proceedings, respondents appearing before the U.S. immigration court do not have the right to court-appointed counsel. Meanwhile, the federal government is always represented by an attorney.  Those going before the Portland Immigration Court without legal representation are nearly five-and-a-half times more likely to lose their cases and be ordered deported from the United States; many to situations where their lives are in immediate danger. 

“No one should have to navigate our country’s highly complex immigration system without an attorney, especially when the consequences can include permanent family separation and removal to a country where they may face serious harms,” said Jordan Cunnings, managing Equity Corps attorney at Innovation Law Lab.  “Equity Corps aims to remedy the injustice wrought by this representation crisis by providing all income-eligible immigrant Oregonians with high quality legal services and representation.” 

Equity Corps is specifically designed to address this representation gap.  By leveraging the power of collaborative representation and innovative technology, Oregon’s universal representation program allows Oregonians in deportation proceedings to enter the pro bono legal services structure through a Community Navigator. Community navigators are trained to conduct a free, confidential, and secure referral into the program’s case clearinghouse database which is developed and maintained by software engineers at Innovation Law Lab, a Portland-based nonprofit. Those eligible for legal support through Equity Corps will then have access to free legal orientations, limited scope legal service workshops, legal representation, and connections to medical or mental health resources. 

In many ways, Oregonians are leading the country’s effort to establish a scalable, holistic, and high-quality universal legal defense system to ensure justice for immigrant members of its communities. “We are grateful to the people of Oregon for their ongoing trust and support in this essential effort.” said Benjamin Grass of Innovation Law Lab. “This is a watershed moment, a big step towards making inclusion, due process, and justice a reality for all Oregonians.” 

— 

To access Equity Corps services, start by finding a Community Navigator near you.

Read more about the Equity Corps’ novel representation model in this report “Defend Everyone: Creating the Equity Corps of Oregon to Provide Universal Representation.” 

Equity Corps of Oregon legal service providers include Catholic Charities of Oregon’s Immigration Legal Services, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, Immigrant Defense Oregon of Metropolitan Public Defender, Immigration Counseling Service, Innovation Law Lab, Lutheran Community Services Northwest, and Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon. Community navigation organizations include El Programa Hispano, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, Latino Network, and Pueblo Unido.  

The Universal Representation Committee of Oregon Ready is comprised of representatives from Causa, Catholic Charities of Oregon’s Immigration Legal Services, Immigrant Defense Oregon of Metropolitan Public Defender, Immigration Counseling Service, Lutheran Community Services Northwest, Innovation Law Lab, Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Navigating Community Organization Pueblo Unido, and Transformative Immigration Law Class at Lewis & Clark Law School.

Trump’s “Remain In Mexico” Policy To Go Before the U.S. Court of Appeals For the Ninth Circuit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 30, 2019

San Francisco, CA ー On Tuesday, October 01, 2019, oral arguments will be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the matter of Innovation Law Lab v. McAleenan, a federal lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s policy of forcing thousands of asylum seekers to remain in Mexico until the conclusion of their removal proceedings before a U.S. immigration court. 

In bringing the lawsuit, Innovation Law Lab and its co-plaintiffs allege that Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy violates the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the United States’ duty under domestic and international law to not return people to dangerous conditions. A federal court ruled in April that the policy is unlawful and temporarily blocked its implementation; the Ninth Circuit subsequently lifted the lower court’s injunction pending further court proceedings. Subsequently, multiple amicus briefs have been filed in support of plaintiffs, including briefs by current US Asylum Officers, former US government officials in the Departments of State and Homeland Security, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

“The United States has a longstanding tradition of providing safe haven to people fleeing persecution,” Tess Hellgren, attorney at Innovation Law Lab, explained. “Over the years, Congress has enacted laws to implement our country’s international and humanitarian obligations. In violation of these laws, the Trump Administration’s policy traps asylum seekers in dangerous conditions and impairs their right to seek refuge.” 

Since the implementation of the policy in January, there has been documentation of widespread kidnappings, sexual violence, crime, homelessness, and illegal deportations of migrants trapped in untenable situations along the border. Advocates along the border also report that the policy has severely impeded asylum seekers’ access to legal representation, posing nearly insurmountable logistical barriers to retaining and communicating with legal counsel in the United States.  Many of those targeted by the cruel program are forced into homelessness in Mexico while they have families and friends ready, willing and able to house and support them in the United States.

“The federal government cruelly refers to this program as the ‘Migrant Protection Protocols.’ We call MPP by its more accurate name, the ‘Migrant Persecution Protocols,’” said PJ Podesta of Innovation Law Lab. “We hope the Ninth Circuit puts an end to this xenophobic, violent, and illegal policy, which has already caused immeasurable harm to individuals and families seeking protection and forced to remain in Mexico.”

This lawsuit is brought by Innovation Law Lab along with eleven individual plaintiffs and the Central American Resource Center of Northern California, Centro Legal de la Raza, the University of San Francisco School of Law Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic, Al Otro Lado, and the Tahirih Justice Center. Plaintiffs are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS). 

MEDIA CONTACT
Ramon Valdez
971-238-1804
ramon@innovationlawlab.org

Su Caso Esta En Sus Manos

One of the world’s largest information and power disparity exists throughout the U.S. asylum adjudication system. A disparity exacerbated by the federal government’s recent attacks on asylum law and a concerning lack of access to free or affordable legal representation; putting refugees at an insurmountable disadvantage as they request safety in the United States. Under the current system, a person’s inability to explain their personal experiences within the context of relevant law means certain deportation back to harm’s way. Those seeking asylum in the United States are 5x less likely to succeed if not represented by an attorney.

While Innovation Law Lab is working diligently to increase legal representation at every step of a refugee’s journey, we recognize the legal community’s current limitations for providing free or affordable legal representation to all asylum-seekers in the United States. We also recognize how dire the situation has become for those unable to access even the most minimal legal services. And as a result, we are building models of support to reduce the harm felt in the increasingly large unrepresented population.

Over the past year, Innovation Law Lab has been collaborating closely with organizations across the United States to launch Asylum Workshop programs which work to inform, empower, and provide limited legal services to unrepresented individuals and families. As part of this ongoing initiative, Innovation Law Lab and the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies have produced a Spanish-language informational video about asylum eligibility requirements which can be shared with persons fleeing persecution who have yet to retain legal representation or orientation. The “manita” framework used in this video was developed by Brenda Perez, a mijente member, as a popular education tool for asylum-seekers. 

Please note that this video is created as a tool to inform and not intended to serve as legal advice. Please also note that asylum eligibility, legal processes, and federal immigration policies are rapidly changing and may apply differently to recently arrived refugees. We encourage all to consult with an experienced attorney for case-specific information. 

Federal Judge Reinstates Nationwide Injunction Preventing Asylum Transit Ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 9, 2019

LAW LAB MEDIA CONTACT
Ramon Valdez; ramon@innovationlawlab.org; 971-238-1804

Oakland, CA 一 Today, a federal court restored a nationwide injunction which prevents the Trump Administration from denying asylum to those fleeing persecution if they passed through another country prior to reaching the United States. The court’s nationwide injunction had been issued on July 24, 2019. It was then upheld but narrowed in its scope by the Ninth Circuit of Appeals. “Today’s decision helps to prevent some of the chaos that has been created by this Administration’s complete disregard for the law,” said Jordan Cunnings, staff attorney at Innovation Law Lab.

In its decision, the federal court acknowledged that plaintiff organizations would, in fact, “suffer a variety of harms” if the asylum transit ban were allowed to go into effect outside of the Ninth Circuit.  For example, the court noted that Innovation Law Lab’s national programming, including its pro bono programs and pro se workshops for people fleeing persecution, would suffer in the absence of a nationwide injunction. The court also cited the need to maintain uniform immigration policy, the text of the Administrative Procedures Act, and the “major administrability issues” that would arise in a ban that applied only outside the Ninth Circuit. 

In its initial injunction, the court had analyzed the government’s rule against the overwhelming evidence — submitted by the Trump administration itself — that, in the court’s words documented “in exhaustive detail the ways in which those seeking asylum in Mexico are subject to violence and abuse from third parties and government officials, denied their rights under Mexican and international law, and wrongly returned to countries from which they fled persecution.” Notably, the court recognized that “even though this mountain of evidence points one way, the agencies went the other — with no explanation.”

“These reckless immigration policies, designed to circumvent asylum law, have dramatically and unnecessarily increased human suffering in North America,” said Ramon Valdez, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Innovation Law Lab. “Refugees deserve to be met with policies of compassion, not animosity.” 

Read the court’s decision here →

Support plaintiff organizations by donating here →

LAW LAB MEDIA CONTACT
Ramon Valdez; ramon@innovationlawlab.org; 971-238-1804

“Hunger strike protocols have been implemented”

Beginning in July, several men from India imprisoned by ICE in El Paso began a hunger strike in protest of their prolonged incarceration — a year or more after they entered the United States to seek asylum.

Some of the men declared that they preferred to die rather than continue to be imprisoned or to be deported back to the persecution they fled.

On August 16th, when pressed by advocates for information for six of these men, ICE offered an email response. The correspondence was riddled with misinformation and euphemisms meant to obscure ICE’s use of brutality and violence. 

Here, the Law Lab team— part of the hunger strikers’ legal team led by Linda Corchado of Las Americas — provides comments within the margins of this email to bring light on what ICE is attempting to hide.

A letter to the residents of Juarez and El Paso.

To the residents of, and communities adjacent to, the lands of Juarez and El Paso, 

Our hearts ache for the lives lost this week to state-sponsored white supremacist violence. Twenty-two precious lives cut short and dozens injured because of unconscionable hatred, leaving behind families and communities steeped in grief, trauma, and irreparable pain.

Let us be clear: this domestic terrorist is not an oddity. He is the byproduct of a public narrative that, over the past few decades, has worked relentlessly to stigmatize immigrants of color and criminalize the human act of migration. His hate-fueled ideology has been emboldened by an administration that routinely fans the flames of race-based terror in its reckless pursuit of power. His acts are mirrored by a system of immigration enforcement and incarceration that inflicts violence against migrants and people of color on a daily basis.

In the aftermath, the Trump Administration and right-wing media have sought to deflect blame. Their calls for unity and healing are seen for what they are: empty lies meant to mask their agenda, which we know remains unchanged.

And neither does ours. We stand with you in the collective pursuit of healing and justice.

You, the El Paso community, are the silver lining to a terribly dark cloud. As we collectively mourn this horrific loss, our team stands in awe of your community’s heart, beauty, and courage. For over two years, Innovation Law Lab has been honored to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you in defense of immigrant rights. We continue to stand in fierce solidarity with you. This week, as our team works with local and national partners to launch the El Paso Immigration Collaborative (EPIC), we vow to continue to listen to your leadership and uplift your visions of healing. We are committed to continue this critical work, at your side, until we have created true collective equality, inclusion, and safety for all. 

With some of our team living in the borderlands, and many more supporting your community remotely, we know that El Paso is a land of deep mutual support—of love that is courageous, boundless, and resilient. Earnest love and solidarity now confronted with the forces of xenophobia and racism. 

Our love is stronger than hate. Our solidarity is stronger than violence.

Adelante.

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