An Ohio federal court gave foreign workers a small victory on Monday. U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley issued a temporary restraining order against the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) requiring the agency to print work permit cards such as employment authorization documents (EADs) within seven days.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit have been waiting for their physical work permit cards for months. This excessive delay was costing them income, and potentially their actual jobs and livelihood in the United States. The temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the court is an emergency measure meant to prevent immediate and irreparable harm to a party during a period where the court holds a hearing on an injunction. The court held that the plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm without the TRO, as they could not recover lost wages from the USCIS since it is a federal agency and protected by sovereign immunity, and that the harm to be suffered was immediate, as they could be without food, shelter, or healthcare if they were unable to work and be compensated fairly.
The court’s order should get the plaintiffs their EADs before the next hearing on the case, scheduled for August 10, 2020. At that time, the court will hear arguments on further injunctive relief for the plaintiffs, potentially requiring USCIS to issue all future EADs promptly after approval, no later than seven days after such approval. The TRO was simply the first request from the plaintiffs to provide quick, needed relief to these individuals and families in need.
For now, those who have been waiting for an EAD or similar document may be in luck and receive a physical card soon. If not, this initial victory for foreign workers could lead to a bigger victory following the injunction hearing if the lawsuit succeeds.
This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.
Written by Francis Law Center Staff Alex Gelhar