My name is John Vandenberg. I am an attorney in Philadelphia. You can find out more about me here: http://www.hvimmigrationlaw.com/Bio/WilliamVandenberg.asp . I have asked Joe Hohenstein to co-counsel on a lawsuit against ICE, and you can learn more about him here: http://www.orlow.com/biographies.html. Joe is a legend in the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and he often serves as an instructor for federal litigation conferences and seminars.
We are looking in particular for TVU victims whose address is in and around Philadelphia, PA for our first plaintiffs. We are also interested in students in Delaware and New Jersey, where we can easily file federal suit as well, or even the Easter District of Pennsylvania may allow us to file here since they are all within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. If you are outside those areas, we are still interested in assisting you, as we can find co-counsel in most major cities, though there won’t be anything filed next week in those other areas.
Essentially, we expect to file a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on or about Tuesday, Feb 22. Our complaint will focus on a lack of individualized determinations of non-immigrant status or maintenance of status procedures, and the cutting off of access to standard change of status or maintenance of status procedures. In layman’s terms: from our reading of the statute and regulations, ICE can’t terminate 1,555 TVU students’ SEVIS records, prevent them from obtaining I-20’s, and issue them NTA’s, at least not before they give the student notice of their intentions and a meaningful opportunity for the student to respond. We think ICE’s actions are illegal and think a federal judge will agree with us. Further, we want the court to force ICE to reactivate the SEVIS accounts for all students and allow them to transfer. We also want the Court to force ICE to cancel, withdraw, or terminate all NTA’s issued thus far, and prevent ICE from issuing NTA’s to TVU victims without an individualized showing of fault.
Several students have asked me about the pro’s and con’s of participating in our upcoming lawsuit. Here is an answer:
1) Pro’s – why you should be a plaintiff
a. More likely to get affirmative action on your case fast. Our initial filings will be on an individual basis. If you are the person suing ICE, then the judge will be likely to give you personally relief on your case. ICE may also not care if we help one, two, or 10 people. They may prefer that we fight it out individually so they can see if they can weed out a few. Those that don’t sue may be stuck in the same place. We intend to file first in Philadelphia, then NJ and DE, and move out from there. Between Joe & I we have colleagues in most major cities who would be local counsel for such lawsuits. And other attorneys may file similar suits all across the country.
b. If you sue and win relief, it may open the door to future lawsuits, even a class action.
c. You can make history. TVU students have an undeserved tarnished reputation. You can be one of the TVU students who stands up for the class and exonerates it.
d. It’s a bargain. If you give an attorney $2000 to defend you in removal proceedings, that money is just gone, even if you win and get to stay. Here, if we prevail, then we will ask for the Court to pay our fees. If the Court agrees, then you’d then get your money back AND win the case.
2) Con’s – why participating may not be a good idea
a. If you didn’t study at TVU (I mean by this that you didn’t sign in and do the online classes and assignments), or you were involved in the fraud or received kickbacks (payments) from TVU, then it may not be appropriate;
b. We could lose. Even the best lawyers lose, just like even the best doctors lose patients. But if we lose, odds are that one of two things will happen:
i. We’ll learn from it, and most likely re-file under a different ground. Colleagues in different states may do the same thing;
ii. Even if ICE initially prevails, it’s possible that ICE will consider it a shot across the bow and, in light of my above point, may relent nonetheless.
Those are my thoughts. If you have questions, please email me at [email protected]. If you’d like to be a member of the class, please complete the attached questionnaire and forward it to my email address.
W. John Yahya Vandenberg, Esq.
Innovative Legal Solutions for Immigrants and Global Businesses
11 Bala Avenue
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004