Local immigrant rights organizations challenge attorney general's subpoenas

Jakori Madison
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry subpoenaed three local immigrant rights organizations, requesting them to turn over confidential information about their clients.

Landry issued subpoenas to these organizations in what they call a tenuous effort to support his legal ability to allege legal claims to challenge the Biden administration’s immigration policies in the federal lawsuit, Arizona v. Garland.

In a request filed earlier this week in federal court, Louisiana Advocates for Immigrants in Detention, Immigration Services and Legal Advocacy, and Home is Here NOLA requested the subpoena be quashed.

These local organizations provide various kinds of mutual aid, legal, and other support systems to detained immigrants as well as to individuals who are returning to the community from detention and those who are facing immigration removal proceedings. Disclosure of the requested information could harm the organizations, their clients, and the broader community, they maintain.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry subpoenaed three local immigrant rights organizations

"We were shocked when we received the subpoenas because we're not parties to the lawsuit or the administration, so for us, especially as a legal service organization asking us for confidential information that identifies our clients and their status is wrong," said Homero López, the legal director for ISLA.

The organizations’ work, they say, depends on the trust of immigrant communities, and a cornerstone of that trust is confidentiality, as many of their clients are in deeply vulnerable states after fleeing persecution, enduring detention, and seeking protection through legal status.

To turn over information that the organizations promised to keep confidential would damage their credibility and undermine their ability to function as well as threaten fundamental federal rights and privileges that protect communications between attorneys and clients. 

Landry seeks these subpoenas based on his claim that Louisiana has incurred increased costs due to a rise in immigration. The organizations say the records and information that he alleges are relevant to this claim are not information that these organizations have and is already in the government's possession. According to the groups, Landry is seeking sensitive information irrelevant to the case, such as the identities of its clients. 

According to the legal director for ISLA, there is no reason the organizations should be a part of this lawsuit because, in a brief by the attorney general's office, they argued that the federal government has the information they're requesting already. "So why ask us? They're not just asking for statistics but identifying information about these people. He shouldn't be requesting this from us and there's no reason we should have to participate in this" López states.

A judge will hear both sides in a hearing scheduled for April 4th.