Written by Adam Jacobs

Sep 24


Proposed “Public Charge” Rules Harm Immigrant Families

This past weekend, the Trump Administration expanded its attack on immigrant communities by threatening access to basic safety net programs including food stamps (SNAP), Medicaid and Section 8 Housing Vouchers. In a draft posted on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website, the Trump Administration proposes to change the rules governing “public charge,” which determine how receipt of public benefits might impact an individual or family’s admissibility to the United States or ability to become a lawful permanent resident. The Administration’s purported rationale for this proposed rule change is to “promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that [immigrants] are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers.” Legal Aid joins hundreds of legal services and civil rights organizations throughout the country in opposing these draconian changes that not only target will harm the most vulnerable individuals and families in our communities but also harm society as a whole – especially socially and economically. Read more →

Sep 21


Protections Secured for DC Government Employees

Earlier this month, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals issued a decision in a case that provides an important clarification for District employees. The opinion makes clear that the District cannot fire an employee, thereby economically forcing the employee to start receiving payments from his retirement annuity, and then assert that the receipt of those payments prevents the employee from challenging the firing. Read more →

Aug 28


Federal Court Permits Class Action Lawsuit Alleging Unlawful Food Stamps Processing Delays To Proceed

Last week, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied, in large part, a motion to dismiss a class action lawsuit against the DC Department of Human Services (DHS). The lawsuit, Garnett et. al v. Zeilinger, filed by Legal Aid, NCLEJ, and Hogan Lovells on behalf of a group of DC residents and Bread for the City in August 2017, alleges that the District fails to timely process applications and recertifications for SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps. The unlawful delays in processing applications have often resulted in low-income residents being left unable to afford the food they need. Read more →

Aug 02


Generous Associates Campaign Shatters Record, Raises $2.15 Million for Legal Aid

Back in May when we sat down with our Co-Chairs to set the goal for this year’s Campaign, and we decided on a cool $2 million, we did it with the understanding that it was ambitious, and that we were comfortable with the possibility that we were misjudging how much we could raise. Well, we did misjudge it:

Friends, you have gone beyond our wildest expectations and raised $2.150 million for Legal Aid!!! Read more →

Jul 25


New York Enacts Provision Akin to DC’s Custodial Power of Attorney Statute

While the separation of undocumented immigrant parents from their children at the border has received significant media attention, those same immigrant families are still at risk once they settle in the U.S. Families continue to live in fear of deportation and separation. Significantly, the District and several states have legal mechanisms to allow undocumented parents to appoint caregivers and avoid detention or foster care for their children, in case of an emergency separation.

Beginning June 27, 2018, New York now has a process that allows parents at risk of immigration enforcement to plan for the safety of their children by choosing caregivers in the event of the parent’s detention or deportation. Read more →

Jul 23


Court of Appeals Ruling Could Ease Access to Safety Net Benefits in DC

On July 19, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals issued an important decision regarding the District of Columbia Department of Human Services’ (DHS) administration of the Program on Work, Empowerment, and Responsibility (POWER). Black v. District of Columbia Department of Human Services, No. 17-AA-5. (POWER is a public assistance program providing cash assistance to certain low- (and no-) income District residents unable to access other public benefit programs.) The POWER program is expressly intended, among other things, to provide benefits to parents who have to stay home to take care of their children. Read more →

Jul 12


DC Council’s Reversal On Eviction Protections Puts Tenants and Their Possessions at Risk

Earlier this week, the DC Council voted to repeal legislation it had unanimously passed just two weeks earlier that would have protected tenants and their belongings during and after evictions.

The Council had the option of maintaining, or even strengthening, that legislation – the Eviction Reform Emergency Amendment Act – which established a safe and orderly process for handling evictions and would have made the District a model jurisdiction for ensuring safe, dignified evictions. Instead, the Council took a “repeal and replace” approach that we are concerned puts tenants at significant risk during the time that this legislation will be in effect. Read more →

Jul 09



The Legal Aid Society urges Councilmembers to vote NO on the Eviction with Dignity Emergency Amendment Act of 2018 and the Eviction with Dignity Temporary Amendment Act of 2018 when they come up for a vote tomorrow, July 10. These misleadingly-named pieces of legislation, which would undo legislation that the Council passed less than two weeks ago, would harm the District’s low-income tenants by making it more likely that they would lose all of their possessions. If you are interested in protecting the District’s low-income tenants from these harmful bills, please contact your Councilmembers immediately to let them know that they should vote NO. Read more →

Jul 03


Barriers to Benefits

Why might a person with schizoaffective disorder, PTSD, major depression, and suicidal thoughts not be receiving Social Security disability benefits? A recent New York Times article noted a statistically significant decline in the number of people receiving Social Security disability benefits last year. Recent coverage of this issue in both the Washington Post and on National Public Radio observed similar trends. Read more →

May 23


Divorce: Another Obstacle to Safety for Domestic Violence Survivors

“When can I get divorced?” I am often asked this question by married domestic violence survivors who meet me for the first time at the Superior Court’s Domestic Violence Intake Center, where Legal Aid attorneys are present four days a week to provide legal advice and assistance to individuals applying for Civil Protection Orders (CPOs) against their abusers. For many survivors of intimate partner violence, obtaining legal protection from abuse through a CPO is an important step towards securing their safety and independence. But, for those who are married to their batterers, it is the granting of a divorce – the severing of all legal and financial ties to one’s spouse – that represents and provides a more complete sense of freedom from abuse. Read more →