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Lawsuit settlement against USCIS would favor 60,000 migrants affected by Trump measure

USCIS ruled out requests for Trump’s measure.

Photo: John Moore / .

More than sixty thousand immigrants who are requesting immigration benefits for humanitarian reasons will benefit from an agreement approved this Tuesday by a federal judge to resolve a lawsuit against the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The lawsuit filed last November in the Northern District Court of California challenged an agency policy adopted under the Donald Trump administration (2017-2021) that specifically targeted humanitarian benefits for survivors of domestic violence, the plaintiffs warned.

Under the measure imposed by the Trump administration, USCIS rejected requests that left some questions unanswered, even when they did not correspond to the case. For example, when the requester did not include an answer for the middle name because they did not have a middle name.

The agency even rejected applications in which the applicant wrote “none” or “does not apply” instead of “N / A”.

Attorneys from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) and the National Immigration Litigation Alliance (NILA) filed the lawsuit led by Salvadoran Kenny M. Castañeda Peñate, a Guatemalan immigrant identified as ISA and the immigrant from India Akhilesh Vangala, who managed to stop the practice in December 2020.

However, thousands of requests had already been denied.

Matt Adams, NWIRP’s chief legal officer, said in a statement that this “was an outrageous policy clearly aimed at preventing people from obtaining the humanitarian benefits that Congress has provided.”

He added that the agency’s position “demonstrated the Trump Administration’s utter disregard for the law.”

Under the settlement agreement approved today by Judge Haywood. S. Guilliam, USCIS will accept the original filing date of the more than 60,000 applications that it has identified as rejected under this policy.

USCIS will send notices to these applicants explaining the steps they can take to ensure that their humanitarian benefits applications are recorded as filed on the date they were originally submitted, preventing many of these cases from being denied for failure to file on the required dates. .

In the Castañeda Peñate case, the immigrant entered the United States in 2019 with her two minor children and submitted an asylum application within one year of her arrival in the country. But this petition was rejected under this policy, causing the migrant to lose the opportunity to fight her case.

The settlement agreement also prevents the agency from adopting a similar refusal policy regarding other forms of immigration unless authorized by law or legally enforced through regulations.

Mary Kenney, Deputy Director of NILA, explained that “tens of thousands of applicants will now finally be able to move forward with applications that the agency should have accepted in 2020.”

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