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: The complaint and motion for class certification were filed on November 19, 2020. USCIS has agreed to halt implementation of the policy and the parties are currently engaged in settlement discussions.
Legal Documents:
+ Complaint
+ Motion for Class Certification
+ FAQ and Updated USCIS Guidance

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: On December 17, 2020, the district court found that USCIS, ICE, and DHS have a pattern or practice of violating FOIA’s statutory deadlines, granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs, and permanently enjoined the agencies from further failing to adhere to the deadlines, to eliminate their backlogs within 60 days, and to provide the court and class counsel with quarterly compliance reports. Defendants appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Meanwhile, they are providing compliance reports.
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 January 11, 2021, the Supreme Court granted the government’s 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), vacated the Ninth Circuit’s decision, and remanded the case to allow the Ninth Circuit to consider intervening case law. Importantly, the injunction (allowing for bond hearings) remains in place pending further proceedings. Motions on the credible fear hearing class are being 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. The parties have fully briefed and the court conducted a hearing on November 13, 2020 on a second preliminary injunction seeking to enjoin the expansion based on additional claims not previously reached by the district court.  
Legal Documents:

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: 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: The District Court’s permanent injunction became final after all parties voluntarily dismissed their cross appeals. Plaintiffs continue to monitor implementation of the injunction.
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