Impact Litigation

NILA’s impact litigation in the federal courts seeks procedural or substantive change either to extend the rights of noncitizens or to eliminate systemic obstacles they or their immigration counsel routinely face. It includes affirmative suits in district court as well as select circuit level litigation that has the potential to establish the law for a region of the country; and amicus briefing to assist federal court judges in their consideration of key legal issues.

NILA’s Affirmative Litigation Docket

Photo Credit: Erica Miranda

Vangala v. USCIS (N.D. Cal.) – Putative national class action challenging USCIS’ policy of rejecting benefits applications filed by survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking, asylum seekers, and children who have been abandoned, abused, or neglected simply for having any blank space.
Co-Counsel: Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Van Der Hout LLP
Current Status: Complaint and motion for class certification filed November 19, 2020
Legal Documents:
+ Complaint
+ Motion for Class Certification

Photo Credit: Laura Belous

C.M. v. United States (D. Ariz.) – Action under the Federal Tort Claims Act seeking damages on behalf of five families subjected to the Trump Administration’s family separation policy
Co-Counsel: Arnold & Porter LLP, National Immigration Justice Center, American Immigration Council, Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing, Feinberg & Lin
Current Status: The court denied the United States’ motion to dismiss in March 2020. Discovery is ongoing.
Legal Documents:

Photo Credit: Erica Miranda

Nightingale v. USCIS (N.D. Cal.) – Certified national class action seeking to force USCIS and ICE to timely comply with requests for immigration case files (A Files) under the Freedom of Information Act.
Co-Counsel: Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, American Immigration Council, Law Office of Stacy Tolchin
Current Status: Discovery ongoing.
Legal Documents:

Photo Credit: Matt Adams

Padilla v. ICE (W.D. Wash., 9th Cir., Sup. Ct.) – Certified national class action preserving the right to a bond hearing for asylum seekers who entered without inspection and passed a credible fear, seeking further procedural protections in those proceedings, and challenging delays in providing credible fear interviews.
Co-Counsel: Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, American Immigration Council, American Civil Liberties Union
Current Status: On August 23, 2020, the government filed a petition for a writ of certiorari seeking review of the Ninth Circuit’s decision affirming the district court’s preliminary injunction order providing for bond hearings for members of the bond hearing class. Motions on the credible fear hearing class are currently held in abeyance.
Legal Documents:

Photo Credit: Tom Doody

Make the Road New York v. McAleenan (D.D.C) – Challenging the expansion of expedited removal.
Co-Counsel: American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Council, Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett LLC
Current Status: On June 23, 2020, the DC Circuit reversed the district court’s decision enjoining the expansion and remanded the case for consideration of additional claims not previously reached by the district court.  On September 22, 2020, the Court declined to rehear the case.  Proceedings in district court are ongoing.     
Legal Documents:

Photo Credit: Lindsay Nash

Moreno v. Nielsen (E.D.N.Y.) – Putative class action challenging USCIS’ policy of denying adjustment applications filed by TPS holders who initially entered without inspection.
Co-Counsel: Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, American Immigration Council
Current Status: The parties completed briefing on Plaintiffs’ motions for class certification and for summary judgment and for Defendants’ motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for summary judgment on July 20, 2018. They completed briefing on Plaintiffs’ first motion for a preliminary injunction on November 18, 2018. The court has not yet set a hearing or ruled.
Legal Documents:

Photo Credit: Zoe S. Feinberg

Campbell Davis v. USCIS (E.D. Pa.) – Putative regional class action seeking immediate naturalizations for individuals who had their oath ceremonies cancelled or not scheduled due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Co-Counsel: Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Law Office of Stacy Tolchin, and Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing, Feinberg & Lin LLP
Current Status: Notice of dismissal filed on July 28, 2020 after USCIS naturalized the named Plaintiffs and 2,202 members of the proposed class.
Legal Documents:

Photo Credit: Norah Higgins

Doe v. Nielsen (D. Ariz.) – Successful challenge to unconstitutional conditions in CBP’s short-term detention facilities (known as “hieleras”)
Co-Counsel: Morrison & Foerster LLP, American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, National Immigration Law Center, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, American Immigration Council
Current Status: CBP and DHS chose not to pursue the appeal to the Ninth Circuit that they had filed from the permanent injunction which the district court entered against them. Thus, on November 11, 2020, the parties stipulated to dismiss the appeal. The permanent injunction is final. 
Legal Documents:

Amicus Briefs

NILA authors amicus briefs on issues within the expertise of their staff. Likewise, NILA signs onto select amicus briefs written by outside authors on issues important to the immigrants’ rights movement. To request amicus support from NILA or to ask NILA to sign onto an amicus brief, please email Trina Realmuto ( and/or Mary Kenney (

Circuit Court Litigation

NILA attorneys also represent individuals before the courts of appeals in appeals from district court decisions and in petitions for review of final removal orders. NILA attorneys accept circuit-court appointments as counsel for pro se individuals. NILA has a number of appeals and petitions for review pending before the courts of appeals as part of its co-counseling program. 

National Immigration Litigation Alliance, Inc.
Tel: (617) 819-4649