FOIA LITIGATION – TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS FOR NEPAL

Adhikaar, et al. v. United States Department of Homeland Security, et al., Civil Action No. 19-cv-5881 (S.D.N.Y.)

This lawsuit pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act was brought in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of the nonprofit groups Adhikaar and the New York Immigration Coalition (“NYIC”) against four U.S. government agencies seeking documents related to the Trump Administration’s decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) for U.S. residents from Nepal.  The lawsuit was filed more than nine months after the plaintiff organizations had submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to the U.S. State Department, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which have failed to provide any response to these organizations’ requests.

The Secretary of Homeland Security designated Nepal for TPS in 2015 after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake and a number of significant aftershocks struck the country, killing nearly 9,000 people, injuring more than 20,000 people, displacing millions, and destroying or significantly damaging over 750,000 homes. On April 26, 2018, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced the termination of TPS for Nepal effective June 24, 2019, which has been postponed pending litigation in a related matter.

The documents sought by Adhikaar and NYIC will contribute to a much greater understanding of the relevant conditions undergirding the termination of TPS for Nepal. Specifically, the records will reveal the extent to which the Administration cabined its evaluation of conditions to those immediately caused by the April 2015 earthquake that struck Nepal, or whether subsequent conditions that impeded earthquake recovery including civil unrest, the obstruction of crossings at the Nepal-India border, inadequate sanitation and widespread flooding were  part of the Administration’s determination.  Moreover, the records will help clarify the extent to which the determination to terminate TPS involved a changed legal standard, changed policy considerations and/or the improper consideration of factors unrelated to extraordinary and temporary conditions in Nepal that prevent Nepali nationals from returning to Nepal in safety.

Plaintiff Adhikaar is a non-profit organization committed to improving the lives of the Nepali-speaking community and uplifting their voices in the social justice movement.  Adhikaar has assisted thousands of Nepali individuals and families through direct service, hands-on trainings and conferences, community organizing and base-building, advocacy and leadership development directed at improving the lives of Nepali-speaking communities across the country.

Plaintiff NYIC is a policy and advocacy organization that represents over 200 immigrant and refugee rights groups throughout New York.  NYIC serves one of the largest and most diverse newcomer populations in the United States. The multi-racial and multi-sector NYIC membership base includes grassroots and nonprofit community organizations, religious and academic institutions, labor unions, as well as legal and socioeconomic justice organizations. Since its founding in 1987, the NYIC has spearheaded innovative policies, promoting and protecting the rights of immigrant communities, improving newcomer access to services, developing leadership and capacity, expanding civic participation, and mobilizing member groups to respond to the fluctuating needs of immigrant communities.

A copy of the complaint can be found HERE.

For more information about the lawsuit, contact Matthew Handley at [email protected].

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