Access to Counsel Before USCIS FOIA

Access to Counsel Before USCIS FOIA

The Council filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to compel the release of records relating to noncitizens’ access to counsel before United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In response to the suit against USCIS, the agency determined that it had over 2000 pages of responsive documents, but withheld or redacted over three quarters of the pages it located. Many of the released documents outline the review and amendment of the Adjudicator’s Field Manual’s (AFM) counsel related provisions. They suggest that advocacy efforts by the Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association prompted the prioritization of amending the AFM. Among other records of note are directives from 2010 and 2011 regarding the policy of allowing attorneys to sit next to their clients and correspondence regarding one local USCIS office’s now-superseded policy that beneficiaries do not have the right to counsel.

The American Immigration Council, with co-counsel Dorsey & Whitney LLP, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to compel the release of records relating to noncitizens’ access to counsel.

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