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CASA de Maryland v. Mayorkas: Protecting asylum seekers’ access to work authorization

In July 2020, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of five non-profit organizations that challenged Trump-era rules making it more difficult for asylum seekers to access work authorization (also known as “Employment Authorization Documents” or EADs) while they wait for their asylum applications to be decided. One of these rules removed the 30-day requirement for USCIS to decide work authorization applications and another added barriers to accessing work authorization. Work authorization is important for asylum seekers to have a way to support their livelihoods during the long wait for asylum in the country.

Our clients

Our clients are five non-profit organizations that serve asylum applicants: CASA de Maryland, the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP), Centro Legal de la Raza, Oasis Legal Services, and Pangea Legal Services.

In September 2020, the court issued a preliminary injunction that prohibited the government from applying some of the rule changes to members of CASA de Maryland and ASAP. The preliminary injunction applied to anyone who was a member of CASA de Maryland or ASAP when they submitted the application for a work authorization based on an asylum application.

On year later, our clients moved for summary judgment and a permanent injunction to make sure that the rules were not enforced against all asylum seekers. In February 2021, a federal court in another lawsuit challenging the same Trump-era rules—Asylumworks v. Mayorkas (D.D.C.)—vacated the rules on a permanent basis for all asylum seekers.  

For the next two years, our clients continued the fight to ensure that the Trump-era rules were fully eradicated and no longer causing harm to asylum seekers.  Eventually, the federal government formally changed the regulatory language, removed the rules from federal forms, and dedicated additional resources to processing initial employment authorization applications for asylum seekers. In April 2023, the CASA court held that our clients had received all the relief they had sought in their complaint. 

Impact

As a result of this litigation, hundreds of thousands asylum seekers had an easier time receiving work authorization and supporting themselves and their families while they pursued their asylum claims in the United States.

If you are an asylum seeker looking for work authorization resources, please click here (EnglishEspañol) for the resources of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, one of our clients and our co-counsel in this case.

ASAP and the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP were co-counsel in this case.

Follow the Case

  • July 21, 2020 Complaint

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  • September 11, 2020 Court’s order and memorandum opinion granting in part Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary relief

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  • August 3, 2020 Defendants’ opposition to Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary relief

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  • August 7, 2020 Plaintiffs’ reply in support of preliminary relief

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  • August 17, 2020 Plaintiffs’ supplemental letter brief in support of preliminary relief (705 stay)

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  • August 17, 2020 Defendants’ supplemental letter brief in opposition to preliminary relief (705 stay)

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  • August 21, 2020 Plaintiffs’ supplemental letter brief in support of preliminary relief (standing, Vacancies Act)

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  • August 21, 2020 Defendants’ supplemental letter brief in opposition to preliminary relief (standing, Vacancies Act)

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  • August 26, 2020 Plaintiffs’ motion for leave to file supplemental brief and Exhibit A with supplemental brief (standing, Vacancies Act)

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  • August 26, 2020 Exhibit A with supplemental brief (standing, Vacancies Act)

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  • September 2, 2020 Defendants’ supplemental letter brief in opposition to preliminary relief (standing, Vacancies Act, scope of relief)

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  • September 2, 2020 Plaintiffs’ supplemental letter brief in support of preliminary relief (standing, Vacancies Act, scope of relief)

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  • September 4, 2020 Plaintiffs’ supplemental letter brief in support of preliminary relief (standing, Vacancies Act, scope of relief)

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  • September 4, 2020 Defendants’ supplemental letter brief in opposition to preliminary relief (standing, Vacancies Act, scope of relief)

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  • September 11, 2020 Court’s order and memorandum opinion granting in part Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary relief

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  • October 21, 2020 Parties’ status report on preliminary injunction implementation

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  • April 20, 2021 Plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgment, or in the alternative, to modify the preliminary injunction

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  • September 9, 2022 Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, or in the alternative, motion for contempt

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  • September 9, 2022 ASAP declaration in support of motion

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  • September 30, 2022 Plaintiffs’ brief in support of their motion for summary judgment, or in the alternative, motion for contempt

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  • November 2, 2022 Plaintiffs’ brief in opposition to Defendants’ motion to dismiss

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  • Asylum Seekers and Advocates Discuss Fight for Work Permits Following Oral Arguments in CASA v. Mayorkas Case

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  • Press Release: Court Partially Blocks Rules Limiting Work Permits for Asylum Seekers

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  • Press Release: Asylum Seekers File Federal Lawsuit to Protect Their Ability to Work

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