JUDGE BARS DHS FROM IMPLEMENTING UNLAWFUL CHANGES TO FEES FOR CITIZENSHIP

USCIS changes to naturalization fee waiver process foreclosed citizenship for some low-income applicants
For Immediate Release
Contact
Michelle Boykins 202-296-2300, ext. 0144 mboykins@advancingjustice-aajc.org

Washington, DC — Today, Judge Maxine Chesney of the Northern District of California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction barring USCIS from implementing changes that would limit access to citizenship for lawful permanent residents (green cardholders). The ruling, issued from the bench, halts changes to the naturalization application process that would present significant barriers to citizenship for tens of thousands of non-wealthy applicants each year. The rule went into effect on December 2. 

Judge Chesney ruled that Plaintiffs were likely to succeed in their claim that USCIS failed to properly engage in the notice-and-comment rulemaking required by the Administrative Procedure Act and that the agency’s new rules making it much harder for low-income residents to apply for fee waivers for naturalization and other immigration benefits are invalid as a result. 

STATEMENT FROM SEATTLE MAYOR JENNY A. DURKAN

“I am glad that the Court recognizes the urgent need to block this “pay-to-play” approach to citizenship from taking effect. Wealth is not and should never be a requirement of being an American citizen. Seattle will always fight for the promise of America, and we demand this administration be accountable to our communities and maintain the current fee waiver process.”

STATEMENT FROM JESSICA MARSDEN, COUNSEL FOR PROTECT DEMOCRACY

“Today’s ruling is an encouraging step in the right direction for the health of our democracy. Participation in democracy must not be limited to those who can afford it. All legal residents who live and work here, pay taxes, and want to be Americans—our neighbors, coworkers, and friends—should have fair and lawful access to full membership in our democratic system. This unlawful policy was intended to hurt legal immigrants who have been here for years and we commend the judge for correctly siding with the law.”
 

STATEMENT FROM JOHN C. YANG, ASIAN AMERICANS ADVANCING JUSTICE | AAJC PRESIDENT AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

“This rule change was about changing the complexion of future immigrants from black and brown to white, and furthering a class-based society that is discriminatory and unwelcoming. Today we stopped that from happening. The Court has forcefully rejected this policy attempt to wash away the time-tested promise on the Statue of Liberty for a country that is accepting of the promise and potential of the tired, poor, and huddled masses who yearn to breathe free in America.”  

Plaintiffs are the City of Seattle and five naturalization legal service providers who serve low-income, citizenship-eligible legal permanent residents: Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Central American Resource Center of California (CARECEN), Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), OneAmerica, and Self-Help for the Elderly. 

More information about the case is available at:
 

https://advancingjustice-aajc.org/naturalization-fee-waiver-lawsuit-city-seattle-v-dhs

 

The amended complaint can be found HERE.

 

The preliminary injunction motion can be found HERE.