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Nora v. Wolf

This suit was filed on behalf of 26 asylum seekers—12 adults and their 14 minor children—who are trapped in life-threatening conditions in Mexico while they wait for their asylum proceedings in the United States to conclude. Plaintiffs all fled violence and persecution in their home countries and sought refuge in the United States. Pursuant to the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), DHS sent the plaintiffs back across the border to the notoriously dangerous Mexican border state of Tamaulipas and required them to remain in Mexico while their removal proceedings are pending.

Represented by Public Citizen Litigation Group, along with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, the ACLU of the District of Columbia, the ACLU of Texas, and Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, the plaintiffs challenge both DHS’s expansion of MPP to Tamaulipas and its return of the plaintiffs to Mexico, alleging claims under the Administrative Procedure Act and the Due Process Clause. The plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to allow plaintiffs to return to the United States to pursue their immigration cases. The Court granted the motion in part and denied in part. It ordered that one client be allowed a new interview to determine whether she should be excluded from MPP.

Following the Court’s ruling on the preliminary injunction, defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. In February 2021, the Court denied in part the motion as to the plaintiffs’ first claim, challenging the expansion of MPP to Tamaulipas as arbitrary and capricious. However, the court dismissed plaintiffs’ due process challenge to the expansion of MPP to Tamaulipas for failure to state a claim. It also dismissed their claim regarding individual nonrefoulement interviews (through which DHS concluded that the plaintiffs should be placed in MPP rather than exempted), holding that it was precluded by a jurisdictional bar in immigration law.

In February 2021, plaintiffs filed a motion for partial summary judgment on their first claim, arguing that the expansion of MPP to Tamaulipas was arbitrary and capricious. Then, while the motion for partial summary judgment was pending, the Biden administration began winding down the MPP program and began allowing our clients to enter the U.S. to await their immigration proceedings.