A federal judge in Seattle has temporarily blocked a Justice Department order that called on a local immigrant-rights organization to stop some of its legal work. His ruling also applies to similar groups around the country.
In a letter last month, the Justice Department told the [Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP)] it must “cease and desist” providing certain legal assistance to immigrants unless it undertakes full representation of them in court.
[U.S. District Judge Richard] Jones on Wednesday said the immigrant-rights group showed it would be immediately and irreparably harmed by the government’s action. The cease-and-desist order also would violate the organization’s constitutional rights, including to free speech, the judge ruled.
Despite a government request to limit his ruling to the group, Jones barred the Justice Department from sending similar orders to any other organizations around the nation.
During a court recess, the executive director [of NWIRP] Jorge Barón said his group has some of the same questions as the judge: “Why after all these years? “Why now [is the government pursuing this action]?
He noted that both Seattle and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project have gotten a lot of attention in recent months for their support of immigrants and resistance to President Donald Trump’s agenda. Barón and other attorneys with the group, for instance, went to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport after Trump issued his first travel ban and were instrumental in stopping immigrants from being turned away. The organization also filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against the first and second travel bans, and has held countless “know your rights” presentations.
The government’s cease-and-desist order, Barón said, “gives us concern that this could be retaliation for those activities.”