Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Pro bono "dream team" scores big win for lawful permanent residents

This is what happens when some of the best pro bono lawyers in the country team up to represent a worthy cause affecting the lives of thousands who would not otherwise have any clue as to what the "rule of law" means for them. Access to the rule of law is the key to promoting respect for the rule of law. Congratulations to the fine lawyers at Cooley Godward, the Texas Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and the ABA's Legal Assistance Partnership Project (LAPP).

Unfounded Security Concerns Do Not Justify Withholding Documentation Beyond a Reasonable Time

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 28 /PRNewswire/ --

A federal court issued a permanent injunction against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), ordering the agency to provide documentation of lawful status ("green cards") to a nationwide class of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who have been denied such proof for months and, in many cases, years. The December 22, 2005 order by U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the Northern District of California added teeth to her August 2005 summary judgment ruling, in which she held that the DHS's policy of withholding documentation from persons already determined to be LPRs by Immigration Courts was arbitrary and capricious, and violated the DHS's nondiscretionary duty to issue documentation in a timely manner. In issuing a permanent injunction, the court rejected the DHS's national security contentions, concluding that such arguments were "illogical and unacceptably vague as a legal justification for withholding documentation." The plaintiff class is represented by Cooley Godward LLP, the Texas Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). The DHS had acknowledged that the class, originally estimated to exceed 12,000, numbered in excess of 6,000 persons as of October 2005. ********************************************* The lawsuit, Santillan, et al. v. Gonzales, et al., was filed in federal district court in San Francisco in July 2004. The class action suit charged that DHS offices nationwide are consistently rejecting and delaying lawful permanent residents' requests for documentation of their LPR status. Greencard delays, which have lasted from months to years, have created serious hardships for immigrants and their families. The Department of Homeland Security has 60 days from the entry of the injunction to file an appeal. The public interest litigation partnership of Cooley Godward's Pro Bono practice and the non-profit Texas Lawyers' Committee was facilitated by the Litigation Assistance Partnership Project (LAPP) of the American Bar Association (ABA). You can receive a full copy of the summary judgment order by going to http://www.cooley.com/LPR or http://www.txlawyerscommittee.org/.

You can read the whole story here.


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