McDermott Files Amicus Brief On Behalf Of Undocumented Asian and Pacific Islander LGBT Individuals and their Children In Case Set For Argument In The US Supreme Court


WASHINGTON, DC (March 9, 2016) International law firm McDermott Will & Emery LLP, in its role as pro bono counsel to the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), has filed an amicus brief to the US Supreme Court in United States v. Texas.

United States v. Texas presents a challenge to President Obama’s Executive Actions on immigration, which expanded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and created a new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program. Both programs were meant to postpone the deportation of undocumented immigrants to give these individuals a chance to remain in the United States, obtain meaningful work, and qualify for some public benefits.

In 2014, Texas led twenty-five other states in a suit against the federal government challenging the expansion of the DACA program and the creation of the DAPA program. In February 2015 a district court in Texas issued an order temporarily suspending both programs nationwide, which has resulted in a large LGBT population living in fear of deportation.

McDermott’s brief shows how the lower court’s suspension of the programs place Asian and Pacific Islander LGBT families in particularly difficult circumstances. DAPA-eligible parents of US citizen/lawful permanent resident children are placed between choosing to: (a) return to their home countries in the Asian-Pacific region with their children, where LGBT people are persecuted, jailed, and even sentenced to death, or (b) parents must leave the US and abandon their children with minimal or no family support. The brief explains how the expanded DACA and DAPA programs allow Asian and Pacific Islander LGBT individuals who are either undocumented or related to undocumented family members to stay in the US and keep families together.

“There are an estimated 267,000 undocumented LGBT immigrants in the United States, and we wanted to give them and their families a voice in this fight,” said James W. Kim, one of the lead McDermott partners on the brief. “Without the DACA and DAPA programs, Asian and Pacific Islander LGBT immigrants with US citizen/lawful permanent resident children are put in a no-win situation – either choosing to be deported with their families to areas of the world where discriminatory treatment of LGBT individuals is either sanctioned or widespread, or choosing to separate from their families and separate their children from their family, a source of essential support in Asian and Pacific Islander cultures.”

A variety of LGBT organizations from various regions of the country have joined NQAPIA and signed on to the brief. For a list of those organizations and to read the full brief click here.

The amicus brief was written by a pro bono team of McDermott attorneys from the firm’s Washington, DC and New York City offices, including James Kim, Joshua Rogaczewski, Lisa Linsky, Michael Stanek, Elle Pyle and Irene Firippis.

McDermott’s filing in United States v. Texas comes almost one year after the firm, in its role as pro bono counsel to The Mattachine Society of Washington, DC, filed an amicus brief to the US Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges and the consolidated same-sex marriage cases. In that brief, McDermott provided an important historical framework describing six decades of unconstitutional animus and bigotry at the core of the federal government’s discrimination against LGBT Americans. McDermott’s amicus brief contained links to over thirty-five documents consisting of both new and previously declassified material, which together, painted a picture of historical and institutionalized homophobia woven into the operations of our federal government. The full brief can be viewed by clicking here.

About McDermott’s Commitment to Pro Bono Work
McDermott Will & Emery recognizes and appreciates the need to give back to the communities of which it is a part and to assist those who are unable to afford legal services. The Firm offers a comprehensive pro bono and community service program managed and led by its full-time pro bono counsel and the chair of our Pro Bono & Community Service Committee, which seeks to ensure that the same standards of quality, service and care that McDermott gives to its paying clients are also afforded to those it serves on a pro bono basis. The Firm strongly encourages its lawyers and staff to participate in pro bono initiatives, volunteer services and charitable activities, and it recognizes lawyer time dedicated to pro bono and community service as equivalent to billable hours for all purposes. For more about McDermott’s commitment to social responsibility, click here.

About McDermott

McDermott Will & Emery is a premier international law firm with a diversified business practice. Numbering more than 1,000 lawyers, we have offices in Boston, Brussels, Chicago, Dallas, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Miami, Milan, Munich, New York, Orange County, Paris, Rome, Seoul, Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. Further extending our reach into Asia, we have a strategic alliance with MWE China Law Offices in Shanghai.

About The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance is a federation of LGBTQ Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander organizations. NQAPIA seeks to build the capacity of local LGBT AAPI organizations, invigorate grassroots organizing, develop leadership, and challenge homophobia, racism, and anti-immigrant bias. NQAPIA is an independent non-profit organization.

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