I started at AILA in mid-September as the first Director of Federal Litigation. From the start, lots of ideas of possible litigation flew fast and furious from the egregious denials on H-1B visas to the new attempt to rewrite the definition of who constitutes a “Public Charge.” We wet our feet with a lawsuit challenging DHS’s failure to timely publish forms for DHS’ now enjoined infamous “public charge” rule (though that has not yet deterred DOS’ on the issuance of its own rule).
We quickly had to pivot to the October 4, 2019, Friday evening “proclamation” from the president who sua sponte decided that those seeking to immigrate legally to the United States had to meet a new, ill-defined requirement: proof of specified types of approved health insurance or the ability to pay for reasonably foreseeable medical costs within 30 days of arriving in the United States “to the satisfaction of the consular officer.”
My colleagues and I instinctively believed that it would be very difficult to comply with the President’s latest surreptitious attempt to build an invisible wall, and that it may run afoul of the Constitution’s separation of powers. The Migration Policy Institute ran the numbers – and the news stories followed – saying that the president was unilaterally cutting legal immigration by 65%, even though those individuals have met the stringent congressionally mandated requirements under our laws. The results would be harsh – eligible individuals forever separated from their families and forever removed from communities ready to welcome and employ them.
People reached out – are you going to sue? Can AILA litigate? The suit would take up a huge amount of bandwidth and require plaintiffs from across the U.S. in order to be a class action.
I wanted to sue, but needed help. A vast resource of people power stood ready and waiting to fight for justice. Hard work and great communication led us to where we stand today. You just need to get the right people engaged, get them to promise time that they probably don’t have, get them to donate their expertise and brilliance, and then get to work. You also need to pull in communications expertise, lean heavily on partners and stakeholders to amplify, and make your already stretched-thin selves available to talk to reporters and brief Hill offices. Not a problem, right? We have spent so many late nights and early mornings working on this lawsuit with our amazing team at Justice Action Center, Innovation Law Lab, Sidley Austin, and our plaintiffs including Latino Network. Each partner fully shares AILA’s mission to fight for fair and reasonable immigration laws and using litigation, when necessary, to uphold the law as written.
On Saturday, the presiding judge granted our motion for a temporary restraining order. Our motion for a full preliminary injunction is due Friday. We’re gathering additional plaintiffs and back to working around-the-clock. The next hearing is scheduled for 11/22. We will be ready for the next battle, and for all others, because this remains a war worth fighting. We stand with countless thousands against this discriminatory, unconstitutional proclamation and the unending attempt to build an invisible wall. It is my pleasure to stand with you!