Georgia Law Community HeLP Clinic reaches successful settlement of lawsuit challenging DHS immigration practices

The University of Georgia School of Law Community Health Law Partnership Clinic recently secured significant immigration relief for its clients, by means of an agreement settling a lawsuit that it filed against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The settlement concluded Oviedo de la Cruz et. al. v. Mayorkas et. al., Case No. 3:21-CV-00077, which had been prepared by the Clinic’s lawyers and law students and filed last June in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. (credit for M.D. Ga. courthouse photo) The lawsuit alleged that the U.S. Administrative Procedure Act had been violated by several practices of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; for example, unreasonable delays in DHS processing of benefits for immigrant survivors of crime who assisted law enforcement.

Twenty Clinic clients benefited from the settlement. Seventeen clients received favorable agency determinations resulting in deferred action and employment authorization pending final adjudication. Three family members residing abroad also were granted relief; this will, among other things, help one of the individual plaintiffs reunite her family. The lawsuit’s success also will benefit 24 minor U.S. citizen children in the plaintiffs’ families.

The Oviedo de la Cruz litigation’s success is due to the hard work, on this lawsuit and the underlying immigration cases, of many students and staff at the Clinic. Primary drafter of the complaint was M. Paige Finley (JD’21), under the supervision of Clinic Director Jason A. Cade and Staff Attorney Kristen E. Shepherd, with administrative and interpretive support from Sarah Ehlers. Other Clinic students involved included 3Ls Navroz Tharani, Thomas Evans, Luis Gomez, and Paige Medley, as well as 2Ls M. Kaitlin Hocker and Victoria M. Hiten. Several who have since completed their JD studies also contributed, including: from the Georgia Law Class of 2021, Ansley Whiten; Class of 2020, Caitlin Felt and Christopher Larsen; Class of 2019, Gabriel A. Justus, Sarah Mirza, and Megan Alpert; Class of 2018, Alina Venick, Michael D. Aune, and Onur Yildirim; and Class of 2017, Ashley A. Rudolph and Alessandro Raimondo.

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