Challenging Drastic Immigration Court Fee Increases That Limit Access to Justice

Catholic Legal Immigration Network, et al., v. Executive Office for Immigration Review, et al., No. 1:20-cv-03812


The American Immigration Council, the National Immigration Law Center, and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s rule that would drastically increase fees across-the-board in high-stakes immigration proceedings. The new rule would immediately deny access to justice for economically disadvantaged individuals seeking a fair day in court.  

The fee increase rule scheduled to take effect January 18 would apply when individuals facing deportation submit certain applications, appeals, and motions to the nation’s immigration courts or the Board of Immigration Appeals, both of which are overseen by the Executive Office for Immigration Review, within the Department of Justice. Under the new fee schedule, the cost to apply for cancellation of removal or suspension of deportation would more than triple, and fees for certain motions to the Board of Immigration Appeals would be over eight times higher than their present level. The cost of an appeal would rise to $975, nearly a nine-fold increase from the current fee. In a departure from decades of law and policy, the new rule also seeks to require asylum seekers to pay an application fee that many will not be able to afford.

The court granted a preliminary injunction on January 18, 2021, blocking nearly all of the rule that would have drastically increased fees in immigration proceedings. All fees were enjoined except for the fee for disciplinary proceedings and the fee for motions to reopen before the immigration court. The judge found that EOIR failed to adequately consider the rule’s impact on non-profit and pro bono legal service providers. 

The case was filed on behalf of immigrant community organizations Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto (CLSEPA), and Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

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