Northwest immigrant rights group sues after Justice Department sends it cease-and-desist letter

SEATTLE (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department has ordered a Seattle-based immigrant rights group to halt a large part of the work it does to advise immigrants of their legal rights and help them fill out paperwork.

The nonprofit Northwest Immigrant Rights Project sued the Justice Department Monday in federal court in Seattle, saying the order would force thousands of people to go without legal help in deportation cases. The group says the DOJ’s demand violates its First Amendment rights.

The organization helps provide free legal representation to more than 200 immigrants a year. However, it also provides lesser help to hundreds more, such as by assisting with asylum claims.

The DOJ sent a cease-and-desist letter last month saying the organization cannot provide such legal help unless it undertakes formal representation of a client.