The Board met during September 2021 to discuss grant applications. As a result of that discussion, the Board made the following grants to five worthy organizations.
Click on each Grantee’s name below to read more about their organization and the case for which they received funding.
The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting for a future where the United States welcomes individuals fleeing violence. With over 175,000 members from over 175 countries, ASAP is now the largest organization of asylum seekers in the United States. ASAP members share a common goal: to work toward building a humane, welcoming, and accessible asylum system in the United States. ASAP members engage together in efforts to make change, including through high-impact social justice litigation and policy advocacy.
THE CASE: In 2020, ASAP members voted to challenge new rules proposed by the Trump administration that would severely limit asylum seekers’ ability to obtain work authorization. The new rules would have eliminated the 30 day processing requirement for asylum seekers’ work permit applications, forced asylum seekers to wait 365 days in order to be eligible to apply for work permits, have added new biometrics requirements and fees, barred many groups of asylum seekers from receiving work permits altogether (including those with certain criminal convictions and those who entered the United States not at a port of entry), and imposed other harmful changes.
On September 11, 2020, the district court ruled in ASAP’s favor in CASA v. Mayorkas (originally CASA v. Wolf) and issued a limited preliminary injunction that protected asylum seekers’ ability to work -- but only if they were members of ASAP or another organization, CASA. Since that preliminary injunction, ASAP has helped over 100,000 asylum seekers successfully receive work permits. We are currently working to expand the court’s protections in the CASA litigation for all asylum seekers. ASAP has a hearing scheduled for December 20, 2021 before Judge Xinis in the District of Maryland on ASAP's motions for summary judgment, motion to expand the preliminary injunction, and the government's cross-motion for summary judgment. The generous support of the McDowell Foundation grant will allow ASAP and its members to continue to litigate this case.
Also, in response to ASAP members' priorities, on November 10, 2021, ASAP brought a new lawsuit to address the related problem of long delays in work permit renewals. Unreasonably long delays in the processing of renewal work permits have forced many asylum seekers to lose their jobs and only means of support. Five ASAP members are plaintiffs in this new class action lawsuit, Tony N. v. USCIS. ASAP has a hearing scheduled for December 17, 2021 before Judge Chesney of the Northern District of California to address the organization's motions for a preliminary injunction and class certification. Recent coverage of the litigation has been featured by CNN, Bloomberg, and the Washington Post.
Grant Contact: Zak Manfredi, Litigation and Advocacy Director, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Children’s Legal Center (CLC) works to provide trauma-informed support to victimized children and families through direct legal and non-legal services. Created in June 2018, CLC’s founding attorneys recognized the growing need for free immigration legal services, especially for children and victims of violence. CLC provides immigration relief screenings for eligibility and direct legal services to undocumented children and families who have experienced victimization. CLC's services include representation before the Immigration Court for asylum seekers and unaccompanied minors, as well as undocumented victims living in our communities.
THE CASE: [Class Representative] v. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Children's Legal Center represents 68 individuals who came into the United States to seek asylum, encountered ICE and whose personal documents were confiscated by ICE (and not returned). Children’s Legal Center is in the process of filing a class action lawsuit against ICE for the seizure of personal documents of identification, such as passports and birth certificates contending that these actions violate due process and the 4th Amendment by preventing these individuals from applying for work authorization and harming their chances of winning asylum because they cannot provide corroborating evidence of biographical information.
Many of our clients have been victims of this injustice and have been unable to obtain replacement documents due to lack of access to their consulates, the costs charged by the consulates for replacement documents, and the pandemic. CLC is seeking the return of all original documents to current and future class members as well as a nationwide injunction preventing ICE from further seizing personal identifying documents of income asylum seekers.
Grant Contact: Laura Hoover, Executive Director, 833 W Chicago Ave, Suite 320, Chicago, IL 60642, 312.722.6642 email@example.com
Founded in 1977, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) is one of the nation’s leading legal advocacy organizations for LGBTQ people, with an active national litigation docket and a strong track record of winning precedent-setting cases. Beginning with custody cases on behalf of lesbian mothers, NCLR has built a history of successful litigation and innovative legal theory and practice in LGBT family law. NCLR won key marriage equality cases. It was the first national LGBTQ legal organization to have introduced a Youth Project and has successfully defended against legal challenges to laws banning licensed therapists from practicing conversion therapy on minors. NCLR has a strong, recent record of winning cases on behalf of transgender youth, employees, and prisoners.
THE CASE: Tingley v. Ferguson, U.S.D.C., Western District of Washington, Case No. 3:21-cv-5359-RJB: NCLR successfully moved to intervene on behalf of Equal Rights Washington to defend the state’s law prohibiting licensed therapists from performing therapy that seeks to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity. NCLR, with local co-counsel Raegen Rasnic of Skellenger Bender, P.S., has been defending the case alongside Washington state officials represented by the state attorney general. The law is being challenged by Brian Tingley, a therapist represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the country’s largest anti-LGBTQ legal organization. In August 2021, the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington dismissed the challenge, holding that the law regulates a dangerous treatment, not speech, and therefore does not violate the First Amendment right to free speech. The court also rejected Tingley’s religious liberty claim. Tingley has appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which is expected to hear the case in 2022.
Grant Contact: Jennifer Bing, Director of Philanthropy, 870 Market Street, Suite 370, San Francisco, CA 94102, 415.845.9406, JBing@NCLRights.org
For 50 years, the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) has fought to advance justice by defending the rights of children and improving the systems impacting their lives. NCYL focuses on complex challenges that disproportionately affect children and communities of color and on solutions that require multiple public systems to change their policies, practices, and culture. NCYL's focus areas include immigration, juvenile justice, education, health, child welfare, and child trafficking.
THE CASE: D.S. v. Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF): The case was filed on behalf of three youth plaintiffs who represent a class of children subjected to placement instability, as well as an organizational plaintiff, Disability Rights Washington, to protect thousands of children with disabilities in foster care. Across Washington State, children with disabilities in foster care are separated from their families because DCYF fails to provide them the supports to remain or reunify with their families. Many children are subjected to extreme placement instability, cycling between temporary shelters, group homes, out-of-state facilities, one-night foster care stays, and hotels.
The lawsuit’s goals include requiring DCYF to -
1. Provide appropriate family preservation- and reunification-focused supports;
2. End the placement of children in hotels, offices, and other short-term stays;
3. Develop an adequate array of placements so children with disabilities receive foster care services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs; and
4. Institute a process for providing individualized needs assessments to children with disabilities in foster care.
Grant Contact: Marie Lim, Development Manager, Mlim@youthlaw.org, (510) 920-3511
New Economy Project is at the forefront of financial justice advocacy in New York City. Founded in 1995, New Economy Project seeks to build a new economy that works for all, rooted in racial and social justice, cooperation, neighborhood equity, and ecological sustainability. New Economy Project undertakes systemic, social justice litigation and is known for effectively combining direct legal services with cutting-edge legal and policy advocacy, coalition-building, and applied research. New Economy Project challenges structural inequities that perpetuate poverty and racial wealth inequality and advocate for policies and practice changes that eliminate economic discrimination and other inequities that harm low-income New Yorkers and New York City neighborhoods.
THE CASE: Esgro Capital Management, LLC v. Sharae Banks. In 2016, Sharae Banks, a single mother, learned that a debt buyer company had secured a default judgment against her—though she never even knew she had been sued. Ms. Banks sought information from the debt buyer’s attorneys, who offered her only an unaffordable payment plan. The debt buyer then began garnishing her wages in 2017, forcing her to work overtime to try to make up for the garnished wages. Only in 2020 did Ms. Banks learn that she could move to vacate the default judgment. Despite her proof that she was never served with a default judgment, the court denied her motion, finding that courts should not grant such “discretionary” relief where the individual “demonstrated a lack of good faith” or was “dilatory” in asserting her rights.
New Economy Project is appealing this state court decision, with co-counsel at The Legal Aid Society of New York City. New Economy Project seeks to reverse a disturbing line of cases granting New York State courts unwarranted discretion to refuse to vacate default judgments entered without personal jurisdiction and equating a sustained period of involuntary payments with waiver of one’s personal jurisdiction defense.
Grant Contact: Susan Shin, Legal Director, New Economy Project, firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-680-5100