Impact Work

The Immigrant Justice Program investigates and challenges civil rights violations against immigrants. Through strong ties with immigrant communities as well as practitioners, the Program is contacted when a systemic issue arises that unjustly affects immigrants and their communities. After a thorough investigation into the facts and the law, the Program files suits with broad-reaching implications to remedy the violation/s.

Unconstitutional Conditions in CBP Detention Facilities Challenged in Class Action Lawsuit

Doe v. Johnson, No. 15-00250 (D. Ariz. filed June 8, 2015)

Immigrant rights groups have filed a class-action lawsuit challenging detention conditions in CBP (Customs and Border Protection) detention facilities. The complaint alleges that Tucson Sector Border Patrol holds men, women, and children in freezing, overcrowded, and filthy cells for days at a time in violation of the U.S. Constitution and CBP’s own policies. Detained individuals are stripped of outer layers of clothing and forced to suffer in brutally cold temperatures; deprived of beds, bedding, and sleep; denied adequate food, water, medicine and medical care, and basic sanitation and hygiene items such as soap, sufficient toilet paper, sanitary napkins, diapers, and showers; and held virtually incommunicado in these conditions for days.

Court Gives Final Approval to Settlement of Class Action Lawsuit Challenging the Shackling Of Immigrants in Court

The final approval hearing for Uelian de Abadia-Peixoto, et al. vs. United States Department of Homeland Security, et al., challenging the shackling of immigrants in immigration court, was held in April 2014 by the Federal Court in San Francisco. At the hearing, the Court approved the settlement. Finding that it was fair and reasonable, the Court adopted the terms of the parties’ agreement, making it effective and enforceable. The settlement reached in this class action lawsuit between immigration authorities andimmigrants who are held in custody during their civil immigration proceedings in San Francisco was announced in January. Final approval of the settlement from the Court now brings a formal end to the federal government’s practice of forcing detained immigrants to go through their civil immigration hearings –often involving life-or-death matters – in handcuffs, leg irons, and chains.

National Settlement Reached to Preclude the Government’s Categorical Withholding of Asylum Interview Notes

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, with co-counsel Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, has reached a nationwide settlement, signed by the presiding judge, in the matter of Martins v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services et al. The settlement ensures that the Government will no longer categorically deny applicants for asylum access to the notes taken by the asylum officers who interview them. These notes are intended to document the content of the asylum interviews. Often the notes provide the only means of understanding what transpired during the interviews, which are key to the decision as to whether asylum is granted. Previously the notes were provided to the applicants when requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), but then the Government changed course and began withholding them despite legal requirements that they be produced.

Day Laborer Rights

In February 2012, in a precedent-setting case successfully litigated by the Lawyers’ Committee and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the United States Supreme Court denied the City of Redondo Beach’s request to review the Ninth Circuit decision that found the City’s ordinance prohibiting solicitation of employment, business, or contributions on city streets and sidewalks unconstitutional. The 2004 case of Comite de Jornaleros de Redondo Beach v. City of Redondo Beach originated after undercover police officers posed as employers, hiring day laborers and then arresting them for soliciting work. The district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals both ruled in favor of the day laborers, siding with the argument that their right to seek work is protected under the right to free speech. The Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the case effectively ended any further challenges to this ruling.