Juni 26. 2023

Mayer Brown partner Ori Lev honored by the American Immigration Council


Mayer Brown partner Ori Lev received the American Immigration Council’s (AIC) “Immigration Impact Award” at its annual award gala for providing critical pro bono assistance to those seeking justice.


Ori was recognized for his leading role in Al Otro Lado v. Mayorkas. Since 2018, a Mayer Brown team led by Ori has represented nonprofit Al Otro Lado and a certified class of thousands of asylum seekers in a case against federal immigration authorities who instituted a policy of turning back asylum seekers at ports of entry on the US-Mexico border and forcing them to wait – sometimes for months – in dangerous border towns.


In September 2021, the Mayer Brown team and its co-counsel from several non-profit legal organizations won a decisive victory when a California federal judge held that migrants arriving at US ports of entry have a statutory and constitutional right of access to the US asylum process, and that the government’s turnback policy violated these rights. The legal team also obtained an injunction prohibiting the government from applying a since-invalidated asylum rule to those class members who had been turned away before that rule went into effect. The legal decision in this case vindicated the rights of asylum seekers at land ports of entry and will likely affect tens of thousands of asylum seekers’ right to access the US asylum process.


“Ori Lev and the law firm Mayer Brown have been exceptional partners advancing impactful litigation to defend the rights of asylum seekers at the boarder for nearly five years in the Al Otro Lado v. Mayorkas case,” said Jeremy Robbins, executive director of the American Immigration Council. “They have invested their legal resources and litigation expertise to challenge US Customs and Border Protection’s policy of turning away asylum seekers at ports of entry along the US-Mexico border. We are grateful for their work.”


“I am honored to receive this recognition and grateful for having the opportunity to work on this important case with a truly incredible group of co-counsel,” said Ori. “I’m extremely proud of the progress we’ve made over the past four-plus years for thousands of asylum seekers. Mayer Brown is committed to creating lasting, real world change through pro bono work. We will continue litigating on appeal to secure the important victory that we won below affirming the principle that migrants arriving at US ports of entry have a right to seek asylum.”


Among the many Mayer Brown lawyers and paralegals who contributed to the effort, counsel Michelle Webster and associate Matthew Fenn were particularly important members of the litigation team, with each devoting hundreds of hours to the litigation.


Mayer Brown is a leader in developing innovative approaches to pro bono work. The first major law firm to develop and implement a pro bono strategic plan, Mayer Brown focuses on pioneering projects that will have a substantial impact, both locally and globally. The firm has long deployed its resources to advance justice and to confront systemic problems, and each year donates tens of thousands of hours of legal services to those with limited means and to the organizations that serve them.

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