Performing Pro Bono Work on Behalf of the County of El Paso, Texas, and the Border Network for Human Rights

October 29, 2020

Partnering with Harvard professor Laurence H. Tribe, as well as attorneys from Willkie Farr & Gallagher and O’Melveny & Myers, a team from Epstein Becker Green (“EBG”), on behalf of the County of El Paso, Texas, and the Border Network for Human Rights, took on a pro bono case to challenge the Trump administration’s national emergency declaration on the southern border. The team balanced liberal and conservative viewpoints in order to be seen as nonpartisan, dedicated only to the Constitution and rule of law rather than political action. Focusing on the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019, the team successfully argued that the Trump administration’s emergency proclamation, redirecting funds identified by Congress for alternative uses to fully fund a border wall, was unlawful.

In October 2019, the Western District of Texas issued a summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, enjoining the Trump administration from border barrier construction. The Hon. Stuart M. Gerson, who led EBG’s effort, commented on the decision: “While we presented a number of issues that we believed could support the relief we sought, the court’s opinion was economical, scholarly, and precise. I am particularly respectful of the fact that, in holding that both of our clients had standing to sue the administration, the court evidenced a persuasive understanding of the impact that the president’s actions have had on the community and its citizens.” Litigation is ongoing: an appeal is pending in the Fifth Circuit and a related protective petition has been filed in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The EBG team also included Erica Sibley Bahnsen, Neil P. Di Spirito, James P. Flynn, Sidra S. Galvin, Jonathan K. Hoerner, Michael L. Lynch, Amy B. Messigian, David S. PoppickDean R. Singewald II, Jessika Tuazon, and Carrie Valiant, among others.

EBG devoted 967 pro bono hours to the El Paso County client.

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