Representing immigration advocacy groups, Sidley recently obtained a preliminary injunction of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) final rule that would eliminate most fee waivers and dramatically raise fees for naturalization, legal permanent residency, and other immigration benefits. The DHS rule would also, for the first time, charge applicants for seeking asylum and add hundreds of dollars in fees if asylum applicants seek employment authorization. Plaintiffs argued that neither Chad Wolf (currently the nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security), nor his predecessor, had authority to conduct the rulemaking under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, among other arguments. On September 25, Washington, D.C.-based Sidley associate Samina Bharmal argued for the preliminary injunction during a nearly four-hour hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The court granted the injunction on September 29.
The Sidley team combined the efforts of practitioners from multiple offices nationwide. The team was led by Ms. Bharmal and Brian Stretch, Hardy Callcott, Naomi Igra (all San Francisco), and Kelly Huggins (Chicago), and included Katherine Olson, Emmanuel Hampton, John Gibbons, Elizabeth MacGill, David Goldenberg, Will Chorba (all Washington, D.C.), Brendan Bohn (New York), Kenyon Hall (Boston), and Taurean Brown (Chicago). The team was also supported by Sidley alumna Chelsea Davis, with non-attorney support provided by Melinda Hanhan, Duan Pryor, Dianne de la Rocha, and Chelsey Lawson.
This pro bono case has been closely monitored in the corporate world due to its potential impact on the ability to obtain and retain talent from outside of the United States, and by the public at large due to the high-profile issues at stake, including the authority of Mr. Wolf to issue the rule, as well as the humanitarian implications of the rule. This matter is part of Sidley’s broad pursuit of justice through our pro bono work to ensure opportunities for immigrants seeking justice and asylum.