Legal Challenge Prompts USCIS to Release Key Immigration Manuals to the Public

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 24, 2024


PORTLAND, OR The National Immigration Litigation Alliance (NILA) and Innovation Law Lab are thrilled to announce that, in response to the lawsuit we filed against the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), USCIS has made two important immigration staff manuals available to the public in its electronic reading room. The release of these documents is a critical step for ensuring transparency for noncitizens in expedited removal and reinstatement proceedings.  

Innovation Law Lab first sought the Credible Fear Procedures and Reasonable Fear Procedures Manuals through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request exactly one year ago, on April 24, 2023. USCIS uses these manuals to make the consequential determination of whether immigrants in fast-tracked removal proceedings, including expedited removal and reinstatement, who express a fear of persecution or torture will have the opportunity to pursue their claims for protection in the United States or be deported without ever seeing an immigration judge.

In February 2024, NILA and Innovation Law Lab filed suit, in the District Court of Oregon, to hold USCIS to account for its failure to respond to the FOIA request. The complaint alleged that USCIS is legally required to  publicly and proactively disclose these manuals to ensure asylum seekers facing immediate deportation are not left in the dark.

One year after the FOIA request was filed with USCIS, the current versions of these manuals are finally available to the public.

This outcome is a significant victory for transparency in immigration processes. The availability of these Manuals will empower individuals and their legal representatives to have a better understanding of the immigration processes necessary to seek protection in the United States. Ensuring that USCIS makes its policies and manuals public is a step towards ensuring that all stakeholders are well-informed and can navigate the system more effectively.

The manuals are now posted in the reading room and on the Transparency Litigation page of NILA’s website.

For more information, contact:

Kristin Macleod-Ball, Senior Staff Attorney, National Immigration Litigation Alliance, kristin@immigrationlitigation.org

Victor Romero-Hernandez, Communications & Media Manager, Innovation Law Lab, victor@innovationlawlab.org

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The National Immigration Litigation Alliance (NILA) is an immigrants’ rights nonprofit that strives to protect, enforce, and expand the rights of noncitizens and individuals perceived to be noncitizens by engaging in impact litigation and by building the capacity of immigration attorneys to litigate in federal court. Follow NILA at www.immigrationlitigation.org, on Twitter at @NILA_ImmLit, and on Facebook at NatImmLitAlliance.

Innovation Law Lab leverages law, technology and organizing to end isolation and exploitation of immigrants and refugees, build permanent pathways to immigrant inclusion, and advance justice.

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