AILA Public Statements, Press Releases

AILA and Sidley Austin, LLP Challenge Trump Administration’s Unlawful USCIS Fee Rule on Behalf of Immigrants’ Rights Organizations

8/21/20 AILA Doc. No. 20082133.

August 21, 2020
Contact: George Tzamaras,

Washington, DC — The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) today announced it has partnered with the law firm of Sidley Austin, LLP to file a lawsuit on behalf of a coalition of the nation’s leading immigrants’ rights organizations against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Chad Wolf, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and Kenneth Cuccinelli over DHS’s new Fee Rule increasing fees for immigration benefit requests, including citizenship and asylum. The coalition will be seeking an emergency nationwide injunction of the rule to prevent it from going into effect on October 2, 2020.

According to Jesse Bless, AILA’s Director of Litigation, “USCIS’ dramatic fee increases will immediately devastate vulnerable populations and our organizational plaintiffs who serve them. The planned fee hikes and unprecedented fee to apply for asylum, including an 83% increase for naturalization applications, place an unlawful barrier in the way of individuals eligible for immigration benefits. These wealth tests belong in the dustbin of history.”

The rule raises fees for many essential immigration benefit requests by 30 to 266 percent, while eliminating most fee waivers for qualifying low-income immigrants. DHS’s Fee Rule has been widely condemned for its exclusionary impact on vulnerable immigrant families, and particularly people of color. DHS has made the cost of obtaining citizenship prohibitively high for millions of eligible permanent residents. Through establishing the nation’s first-ever fee for asylum seekers, the Trump administration has also made the United States just one of four countries in the world to impose such a fee on people fleeing dangerous situations.

DHS justified the rule based on what it claims are skyrocketing costs and a budgetary shortfall. But during the notice and comment period, many criticized the Fee Rule for failing to explain how USCIS calculates its costs and burned through the ample cash reserves it had on hand just a few years ago. The coalition challenges USCIS’ budgetary model and revenue projections in their lawsuit.

The complaint can be found here.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.