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Amicus Briefs NNEDV Joined in 2020


April 2020

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project v. USCIS, January 21, 2020

Here, the case is dealing with fee waivers that are available to U visa, T visa, and VAWA immigration applicants. The waivers still exist, in theory, but USCIS has taken action to severely restrict eligibility for a fee waiver. For example, the most common way a person qualified for a waiver was through the means-tested benefit route, where someone who receives a benefit  from a means tested government agency (SNAP benefits, for example) would qualify for a fee-waiver. USCIS has eliminated this option in the new fee waiver rules. As we know, survivors of physical abuse who may qualify for a U visa or VAWA waiver, are usually victims of financial abuse as well. The brief argues that these new rules, in addition to being contrary to the intent of congress to allow access to these important immigration options, will make it even more difficult for survivors to leave abusive partners and could present a Hobson’s choice of paying a filing fee or affording basic life necessities. The brief goes on to argue that the alternatives to the means tested benefit option are inadequate because of documentation requirements (abusers often control the documents), and outdated income limits.

Make the Road NY v. Wolf, January 24, 2020

In July 2019, the department of Homeland Security published a Notice in the Federal Register that expanded the categories of people that are subject to expedited removal under the INA. The Notice expanded expedited removal by applying to any person who lacks valid entry documents and cannot prove to the satisfaction of an immigration officer that they had been present in the U.S. continuously for at least two years. The U.S. District Court blocked the expansion. Here, the amici argue that this expansion negatively and disproportionately impacts survivors of domestic violence and gender-based violence and asks the D.C. Circuit to affirm the injunction. The brief highlights that “survivors of abuse in this country will be unable to provide documentary evidence of continuous presence, because that evidence is in the hands of their abusers and that the effects of trauma make it impossible for many survivors of violence experienced either inside or outside the United States to discuss their experiences during credible fear interviews in the way that interviewing officers expect.” It also argues that the Notice upends the protections available to victims of domestic violence and trafficking through VAWA self-petitions, T-Visas, and U Visas because in many situations abusers will control access to proof of continuous presence in the U.S. and if survivors are potentially subjected to expedited removal, they are less likely to report crimes and cooperate with law enforcement.

Doe v. Fairfax County School Board, February 14, 2020

In this case, a student reported unwanted sexual contact during a school trip, and the school failed to take reasonable steps. The general standard for liability in Title IX cases is that a school official had actual knowledge of the incident. Actual knowledge is a term of art that includes notice of allegations. At trial, the judge refused to allow a jury instruction clarifying that “actual knowledge” of sexual harassment in Title IX cases included actual notice. The jury even had questions about this issue, and the judge instructed them to use the ordinary meaning of actual knowledge. Therefore, the jury erroneously thought that the school board had to have actual knowledge of substantiated claims of sexual harassment/assault for the district to face Title IX liability. The brief argues that, “Ms. Doe’s access to justice was denied when the court failed to: (1) instruct the jury that the legal meaning of “actual knowledge” in Title IX proceedings is interchangeable with “actual notice;” or (2) explain that the standard means awareness of allegations of sexual harassment—not definitive, conclusive proof of sexual harassment.”

Little Sisters v. Pennsylvania, April 8, 2020

Following the Hobby Lobby decision, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor issued rules in 2018 expanding the entities that could exempt themselves from providing contraception coverage based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the ACA itself. Pennsylvania and New Jersey challenged the rules in district court. The states argued, among other things, that the departments did not follow the Administrative Procedure Act. The court agreed, and issued an injunction. The case was appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, who affirmed. Little Sisters of the Poor Homes Saints Peter and Paul Home filed for writ of certiorari, which was granted. In the consolidated case, Trump v. Pennsylvania, the government filed for writ of certiorari. The legal issue in this case is whether nongovernmental employers can opt out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirement that employer provided health plans include coverage for contraception and related counseling and services. The Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor issued rules in 2018 that exempted these employers from providing contraception coverage under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the ACA itself. The lower court issued an injunction blocking the rules from taking effect. The brief argues that these departments lack the authority to issue such rules.

California v. TexasMay 13, 2020

The main issue covered in the brief is whether the elimination of the individual mandate renders the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional. The brief argues that the ACA is constitutional and includes vital protections for women and specifically victims of domestic violence because it eliminates the ability to discriminate against pre-existing conditions (which often included domestic violence).

Public Charge Cases 

On August 14, 2019, DHS published a final rule making sweeping changes to the “public charge” test. A number of organizations and jurisdictions filed lawsuits to challenge this harmful rule, and the district courts issued preliminary injunctions to block the rule from taking effect. The injunction issued by the New York court applies nation-wide. The government has appealed to lift the injunctions, asking the courts to let the rule take effect immediately.   The briefs address the public charge rule from a racial and gender justice lens and discuss this administration’s demonstrated animus towards immigrants of color and the disparate impact the rule will have on immigrant communities.

San Francisco v. USCIS, January 2,2020

California v. DHS, January 23, 2020

Washington v. DHS, January 23, 2020


Downloadable Resources

San Francisco v. USCIS - January 2, 2020 Download
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project v. USCIS - January 21, 2020 Download
California v. DHS - January 23, 2020 Download
Washington v. DHS - January 23, 2020 Download
Make the Road NY v. Wolf - January 24, 2020 Download
Doe v. Fairfax County School Board - February 14, 2020 Download
Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania - April 8, 2020 Download
California v. Texas - May 13, 2020 Download
Peltier v. Charter Day School Download
Sagaille v. Carrega, August 10, 2020 Download