Federal Court Blocks Dramatic Immigration Courts Fee Increases

January 19, 2021

WASHINGTONA federal court Mondablocked nearly all of a Trump administration rule that would have drastically increased fees in immigration proceedings in which the government seeks to deport immigrants, many of whom are long-term residents of this country. 

The fee increase rule, scheduled to take effect today, would have increased the filing fees for applications, appeals, and motions in removal proceedings by as much as nearly 800%. The substantial increases  would  have immediately denied access to justice for economically disadvantaged individuals seeking a fair day in court.   

The American Immigration Council, the National Immigration Law Center and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher challenged the rule. The lawsuitCLINIC v. EOIRwas filed on behalf of immigrant rights organizations and legal services providers Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto (CLSEPA), and The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA). 

The following reaction is from:  

Lisa Graybill, legal director of the National Immigration Law Center: “We are glad the court has intervened to halt the outgoing Trump administration’s unlawful last-ditch effort to price immigrants facing deportation out of due process. We urge the incoming administration to take all necessary steps to reverse these ill-conceived measures and give everyone facing deportation a fair day in court.”

Kate Melloy Goettel, legal director, litigation at the American Immigration Council: “Yet again, the court rejected the administration’s shoddy rule-making, this time halting a pernicious rule that would have imposed a 'wealth test' on immigrants seeking a fair day in court. Without today’s ruling, the new fees would have meant increased deportations for many low-income immigrants for no other reason than their inability to afford access to the courts.”

Michelle Mendez, director, Defending Vulnerable Populations program, at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc: “CLINIC, our affiliates, and our clients welcome this preliminary injunction as a much-needed moment of pause. It is not easy for low-income people to navigate the legal system, let alone as immigrants confronted by the incredibly complex immigration system, where the stakes are so high. The outcomes of their removal cases literally determine whether they can remain in this country, contributing to their families and communities, or be forced to leave their homes and loved ones forever. Sometimes, the outcomes literally mean the difference between life and death. Raising the price of access to immigration court would deny justice to many human beings, and we are grateful that this unjust act has been stopped, for now. The court recognized that the proposed fee increases would prejudice immigrants’ access to counsel, and delay or deny them justice."

Richard Mark of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP: “The court’s decision recognizes that Congress intended for pro bono and low-cost legal services to be available to assist people facing removal proceedings. As a consequence, when EOIR sought to increase fees, it was obligated to respond to concerns about the impact of fee increases on these providers 'in a meaningful way, not blithely dismiss them as outside the limited scope of this rulemaking.'”  Added Joseph Evall, also at Gibson Dunn, “The court concluded that EOIR’s failure to consider these important concerns violated the Administrative Procedure Act. And because the increased fees would cause harm throughout the country, the court entered a nationwide injunction, rejecting defendants’ efforts to cabin the relief just to plaintiffs.”   

 The court’s ruling is available here. 

Plaintiffs’ litigation team includes:  Katherine Melloy Goettel and Emma Winger of the American Immigration Council; Robin Goldfaden, Michelle LaPointe, and Meredith Cabell of the National Immigration Law Center; and Richard Mark, Joseph Evall, Katherine Marquart, Anthony Moreno, Laura Mumm, Julianne Duran, Vladimir Semendyai, Alexandra Perloff-Giles, Ramona Lin, Josh Obear, Nanding Chen, Jialin Yang, and Kevin Reilly of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.


For more information, contact: 

Maria Frausto, American Immigration Council, [email protected]202-507-7526or Juan Gastelum, National Immigration Law Center at 213-375-3149, [email protected]. 

Media Contact

Elyssa Pachico
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