U.S. District Judge Richard Jones of Seattle, Washington recently ruled to block a federal action prohibiting nonprofits from providing legal assistance to immigrants in detention and facing deportation. The decision would allow organizations like Seattle-based Northwest Immigration Rights Project to resume their efforts to provide legal aid to undocumented immigrants, albeit temporarily, until the Department of Justice can act on the matter.
The Department of Justice sent a cease-and-desist notice to the Northwest Immigration Rights Project, sternly reminding the nonprofit to commit to providing full legal representation for every immigrant they advise or completely halt providing legal aid altogether.
The legal aid group scoffed at the order, calling it a “new and novel” interpretation of a 2008 rule designed to protect detained immigrants from being exploited by people pretending to be attorneys. The group adds the DOJ’s interpretation technically violates the First and 10th Amendment rights of attorneys and restricts legal assistance to immigrants.