CLS Denounces DOJ Attack Against NWIRP

Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Statement: Columbia Legal Services Denounces U.S. DOJ Attack Against NWIRP, Stands with Immigrants and Access to Justice
 
Yesterday, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) filed a lawsuit, NWIRP v. Sessions, in partnership with Davis Wright Tremaine, to challenge a U.S. Department of Justice "cease and desist" order sent last month. DOJ's order would prevent NWIRP from providing a range of limited legal assistance activities to unrepresented immigrants in deportation proceedings. This work is incredibly important and necessary to protect the rights of our immigrant community members and keep families intact.
 
The following is a statement from Merf Ehman, Deputy Director of Columbia Legal Services:
 
"Columbia Legal Services denounces the DOJ's attempt to obstruct essential legal services provided by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and support NWIRP's lawsuit challenging the order. NWIRP has a proven 30-year record of helping people understand their rights and protect themselves from deportation -- often a life-changing decision. Meanwhile, the new administration has a disturbing record of using executive orders and threats like this one to target communities based on immigration status and religion.
 
As legal advocates who work closely with undocumented immigrants, we are concerned about notarios who provide inadequate and improper legal advice to immigrant communities and often do more damage than good. The DOJ appears to be using 2008 agency regulations targeting notarios as a false pretense to attack a reputable legal service organization. However, NWIRP is no notario. It may be no coincidence that NWIRP and other civil and immigrant rights groups in our state and across the nation have challenged Trump's Muslim ban. 
 
If the DOJ order is allowed to stand, it would preclude the majority of people in deportation proceedings in Washington State from receiving any legal assistance in their cases. This order undermines American values and Constitutional protections and we stand with NWIRP and the communities we serve to help block it."
 
Media Contact- Charlie McAteer, CLS Communications: 917-696-1321, charlie.mcateer@columbialegal.org