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"Immigration is an issue I’m really passionate about," said Niketa Patel, a sixth-year litigation associate who is based in Mayer Brown’s New York office.

Mayer Brown sixth-year associate Niketa Patel made her debut as an oral advocate on Monday, challenging a Trump administration rule that makes it harder for immigrants to qualify for waivers of the citizenship application fee.

Over the course of a three-hour marathon hearing, Patel and co-counsel Jessica Marsden from Protect Democracy argued City of Seattle et al v. DHS et al. before U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney in San Francisco federal court.

At the end of the hearing, Chesney ruled from the bench, issuing a nationwide preliminary injunction to block the rule.

Naturalization—the process by which immigrants become American citizens—entails a series of requirements, including a $725 fee. The fee had been waived automatically for lawful permanent residents who receive a means-tested benefit from another government agency. The new rule did away with the waiver.

“This change effectively creates a wealth test for citizenship and will block large numbers of low-income [lawful permanent residents] from becoming citizens, despite the fact that they are already part of the fabric of—and make enormous contributions to—our country,” stated the complaint, which was filed on Nov. 6.

“Immigration is an issue I’m really passionate about,” said Patel, a litigation associate who is based in Mayer Brown’s New York office.

Working with partners Matthew Ingber, who manages the New York office, and Lauren Goldman, a member of firm’s management committee and a co-leader of the Supreme Court and appellate practice, Patel was tapped to handle the oral argument for the injunction.

Her initial reaction? “Fear, and being really excited,” she said. “I’m very grateful to Mayer Brown for giving me the opportunity.”

“This is a really important case for a lot of people,” Patel said, adding that she and the firm will continue to litigate the case as it proceeds through the courts.


Reprinted with permission from the December 11, 2019 edition of The Litigation Daily © 2019 ALM Properties, Inc. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited.