NILA in Action
In James v. Garland, NILA teamed up with solo practitioner, Kira Gagarin, on her first petition for review. The case involved whether the BIA erred by failing to consider our client’s argument that notice of appeal, made while she was pro se, detained, and “during the frenzied first month of the COVID-19 outbreak,” should be treated as timely filed even though it arrived late at the BIA. On October 25, 2021, the First Circuit ruled in our favor. The court noted that “the BIA must have been aware of the coronavirus pandemic” and sent the case back to the BIA to determine whether our client’s circumstances warranted equitable tolling of the appeal deadline.
NILA, in collaboration with Perkins Coie and the National Immigrant Justice Center, filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in Patel v. Garland. In our brief, we explain how, if the Immigration and Nationality Act’s restriction on federal court review of certain discretionary decisions is read as stripping federal courts of jurisdiction over nondiscretionary, statutory eligibility issues, noncitizen applicants for adjustment of status who are not in removal proceedings—and thus can seek review only in U.S. district courts—will be left without a forum for review of all errors of law or fact by USCIS, no matter how egregious. Read the brief here.
On August 18, 2021, in Alvarez Espino v. USCIS, the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont denied a motion to dismiss filed by Defendant U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in NILA’s challenge to the agency’s unreasonable delay in placing the plaintiffs on the U visa waiting list. The court concluded that discovery was necessary for it to fully consider the factors that inform whether an agency’s delay is unreasonable. Consequently, in addition to denying the motion to dismiss, the court allowed the parties 6 months to engage in discovery. NILA’s co-counsel in the case is Maria Baldini-Potermin & Associates. Read the decision here.