Northwest Immigrant Rights Project v. Sessions
The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in support of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is being sued by the controversial open borders nonprofit Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP). NWIRP has sued AG Sessions for threatening by letter to enforce an immigration court rule that imposes sanctions on nonprofit attorneys who have prepared legal documents for aliens but have failed to enter an official appearance as counsel and sign the documents.
The rule, which was enacted in 2008, exists to discourage ghostwriting. As AG Sessions has asserted, "ghostwriting causes confusion regarding representation," "allows attorneys to evade responsibility and accountability for their arguments presented to a court," "prevents immigration judges and the Board [of Immigration Appeals] from examining the arguments presented by the parties via oral arguments," "facilitates the unauthorized practice of law by notarios," and "makes it more difficult for immigrant respondents to lodge ineffective assistance claims and preserve relief."
In its lawsuit, NWIRP claims, among other things, that the rule violates its First Amendment rights. In its brief, IRLI points out that federal district courts - including the Western District of Washington - have this same rule against limited representation. Since the Western District's rule does not violate the First Amendment, IRLI argues, neither does the bar on limited representation in immigrations courts.
This is not NWIRP's first run-in with disciplinary issues before the nation's immigration courts. IRLI released a 2016 Department of Justice disciplinary letter of reprimand against an NWIRP attorney for filing multiple briefs on behalf of NWIRP that engaged in derogatory name-calling against IRLI's parent organization the Federation for American Immigration Reform. The letter called the attacks unprofessional and frivolous behavior that abused the briefing process and failed to aid the administration of justice.