A federal court ruled on March 1st, that the Trump administration illegally appointed Ken Cuccinelli to serve as Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). As a result, the Court concluded that Cuccinelli “lacked authority” to perform the exclusive functions of the director. The Court further voided as “invalid and without legal force or effect” two immigration directives Cuccinelli issued that eviscerate important legal protections for asylum seekers.

Today’s ruling sets aside the removal orders and negative credible fear determinations for the asylum seekers in this case, meaning that they will have another chance to have their claims heard. The Court’s conclusion also raises serious questions about the legality of removal orders issued to other asylum seekers under the same directives, and other actions Cuccinelli has undertaken.

The Court specifically voided as “defective” Cuccinelli’s anti-immigrant policies which:
  • Cut in half, or more, the time for asylum seekers to consult with a lawyer and prepare evidence to substantiate their fear of persecution — which can leave them with just a few hours, while detained, to prepare for an interview with potential life or death consequences; and

  • Prohibited asylum seekers from obtaining a continuance except in extraordinary circumstances, such as being unconscious. Under Cuccinelli’s directives, continuances were no longer granted when additional time is needed to prepare for the interview or overcome language barriers.

Read our press release on the news here.