McDowell Foundation Receives 2019 Grantee First Quarter Updates

All 2019 grantees were contacted in February in accordance with the Foundation’s requirements and reported the following with respect to the progress of their case and hours invested during the first quarter of their grant cycle:

The American Immigration Council (“AIC”)

The AIC filed a class action on behalf of persons holding Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) who want to become lawful permanent residents (“LPRs”) through their relationships with qualifying U.S. citizen relatives or employers. The vast majority of these TPS holders have held that status for 15 to 24 years and are fully integrated into their U.S. communities. Through the governmental policy challenged in this case AIC claims that the United States unlawfully denies Plaintiffs the opportunity to adjust from TPS to LPR status which is the first step towards obtaining U.S. citizenship.

AIC filed a motion for a preliminary injunction with the court in November 2018 and is waiting for a decision. Its motions for class certification and a cross motion for summary judgment have been pending for almost six months. AIC is concerned that TPS holders may soon begin losing their TPS status. AIC has not heard nothing yet from the court on any of these pending motions. AIC’s time records show that it is on track to meet its grant obligations.

The National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ”)

NCLEJ filed a class action law suit, Black Love Resists et al v. City of Buffalo, which challenges, among other claims, the Buffalo Police Department’s systematic targeting of communities of color with aggressive and punitive traffic enforcement resulting in millions of dollars in ticket revenues. NCLEJ and co-counsel brought the action on behalf of thousands of individuals as well as the organization Black Love Resists in the Rust, whose members have been harmed by the challenged practices.

 NCLEJ has begun the discovery phase of litigation and participated in the court’s process to determine whether the case can be addressed through mediation. NCLEJ has informed the community about the case and gathered additional facts from witnesses about their experiences with checkpoints, ticketing, and the Buffalo Police Department (BPD). NCLEJ’s time records show that it is on track to meet its grant obligations.

Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (“CGRS”)

In 2018 U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions intervened in an asylum case involving a domestic violence survivor from El Salvador known as Matter of A-B-, certifying the case to himself for reconsideration. In June 2018 Sessions issued a decision in A-B-, reversing a previous grant of asylum to the plaintiff and casting doubt on the viability of all asylum claims based on domestic violence, gang brutality, and other forms of persecution perpetrated by nongovernment actors. CGRS has launched a nationally coordinated public advocacy campaign in support of the litigation.

In August 2018 the CGRS we submitted new briefing to Judge Couch in support of Ms. A.B.’s claims for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. We also moved to recuse Couch from the case (preserving Ms. A.B.’s due process claims of bias). Judge Couch denied the motion and in October 2018 issued a final denial of her claims for relief. CGRS’ time records show that it is on track to meet its grant obligations.

Prisoner’s Legal Services of Massachusetts (“PLS”)

Prisoners’ Legal Services, a Massachusetts nonprofit legal services office, has prepared to file suit challenging the Massachusetts law, M.G.L. c. 123, § 35, that authorizes the involuntary civil commitment of men suffering from alcohol and substance use disorders to Department of Correction prisons. Massachusetts is the only state in the country where men are civilly committed to a correctional institution for substance use.

PLS has engaged in the fact-finding and client outreach necessary for litigation, including drafting a complaint and motion for class certification. PLS has also worked to educate the legal community, policy makers, and the public about the harm of incarcerating patients suffering from alcohol and substance abuse, through outreach to a legislatively-established commission bar associations, individual attorneys and activists. PLS’ time records show that it is on track to meet its grant obligations.

National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (“NIPNLG”)

NIPNLG moved to intervene in proceedings before the Bureau of Hearings and Appeals (BHA) of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (the “Department”). The BHA proceedings involve the Berks County Residential Center (BCRC) Petition to Appeal the Department’s non-renewal of its operating license. BCRC is an immigration detention center that imprisons minor children and their parents. Without a license as a child residential facility, the BCRC, which detains immigrant parents and children together, cannot operate. NIPNLG represented detained minor children D.G.A. and R.D.A.M. and detained adults G.C.G. and R.N.

In October 2019 NIPNLG, along with co-counsel, filed a brief to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania in support of detained families’ right to intervene in this licensing dispute. NIPNLG is awaiting a decision on its petition. NIPNLG’s time records show that it is on track to meet its grant obligations.

(February 2019)

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