The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project provides legal help to people like Daniel Ramirez Medina, the 23-year-old DACA-recipient formerly detained by immigration officials.
The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project provides legal help to people like Daniel Ramirez Medina, the 23-year-old DACA-recipient formerly detained in Tacoma by immigration officials. HG

The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), one of the biggest organizations serving immigrants in the region, is suing a Department of Justice office over a federal request to the group to stop helping undocumented immigrants with paperwork.

Here's more from Gene Johnson at the Associated Press:

In a cease-and-desist letter sent last month, the Justice Department's Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) told the group it cannot provide legal help unless it undertakes formal representation of a client. It cited a rule adopted in 2008 and designed in part to curtail attorney misconduct and so-called "notario" fraud, in which people unauthorized to practice law advertised themselves as able to help immigrants obtain lawful status.

In a motion for a temporary restraining order against the government's request, filed yesterday in US District Court, NWIRP wrote that complying with Justice Department's Executive Office of Immigration Review cease-and-desist would force them to either formally represent everyone who comes to the nonprofit for help understanding the US immigration system, or help no one at all.

In the same motion, NWIRP argued that this would "deprive thousands of unrepresented immigrants—including asylum seekers and unaccompanied children—of the chance to consult with a NWIRP lawyer and to receive critical assistance in understanding immigration law and navigating the byzantine immigration system."

NWIRP claims the immigration review office's interpretation of the 2008 rule is new, and that it violates both the organization's First Amendment rights to free speech and free association, as well as the Tenth Amendment by infringing on Washington State's own regulatory authority.

We've asked for comment from the Department of Justice and will update when we hear back.