Immigration advocacy groups recently requested a federal judge in Maryland to rule in their favor in a lawsuit. The filed suit concerns the processing times for asylum-seekers work authorization (EAD) requests. The lawsuit claims that the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) failed to comply with an injunction requiring them to process the applications within 30 days, thus causing irreparable harm.
During their motion for summary judgment, the groups argued that they complied with any requirements of the preliminary injunction issued in 2020. This injunction re-instituted a 30-day timeline for processing employment authorization requests for asylum-seekers that were previously in effect.
As of April, the government has been processing the pending employment authorization requests that are the oldest first. However, the preliminary injunctions do not cover all requests which need processing. This process means that some applicants have had to wait months to process their applications.
The preliminary injunction the court granted in 2020 ordered the government to complete its work processing the plaintiff’s applications within 30 days. Before the previous administration, this process had been the accepted standard.
The immigration advocacy groups requested the removal of the rule, which requires a year-long wait. They emphasize that the previous Secretary of Homeland Security did not lawfully take his position when he implemented the rules. These rules eliminated the 30-day timeline in which the employment authorization requests were to be processed and put in place a yearlong waiting period, as well as narrowing eligibility.
The DHS faced a lawsuit concerning these rules in July 2020. However, the DHS filed a motion to stay this case in August 2020. Instead, it argued for time to deal with other cases that disputed the rules.
The government claims it did not violate the preliminary injunction. Instead, it claims it complied with a ruling from another case, which ruled that EAD processing is not dependent on membership in a particular organization.
The government also stated that the backlog of cases results from an attempt to comply with another court order. Furthermore, it claims it should have most of its applications that have been pending beyond the 30-day timeline dealt with by the end of September.
However, the advocacy groups stated that the other cases should not affect the ability of the courts to decide their case. The groups then drew attention to how courts have made simultaneous rulings in the past. Furthermore, they added that their case concerns returning to the rules in effect before the 2020 rules.
They also claim that they need injunctive relief as a remedy for the harmed asylum-seekers. However, they added that monetary relief is not a possible solution in this case. Instead, they want the court to force the DHS to correct its website, other official documents, and its forms that have provisions from the 2020 rules and return to the 30-day timeline for processing initial EAD applications and disclosing data to ensure it complies with the timeline.
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