Firm Submits Amicus Brief Challenging Termination of Food Stamp Benefits to Legal Immigrants

June 9, 2011

Kaye Scholer has submitted an amicus curiae brief on behalf of Legal Momentum, the leading national women's legal rights organization, in Pimentel v. Dreyfus, No. 11-35237, a significant case in the Ninth Circuit that raises constitutional issues of first impression. The brief challenges the termination of food stamp benefits to legal immigrants in the State of Washington.

Plaintiff-Appellee Monica Navarro Pimentel, a legal immigrant who was battered by her spouse, challenged a decision by the State of Washington to terminate a state-funded food assistance program for lawful immigrants who are ineligible for federally funded food assistance. Finding that Ms. Pimentel was likely to succeed on the merits of her equal protection and due process claims, the District Court for the Western District of Washington entered a preliminary injunction prohibiting the State from terminating the program during the pendency of the litigation. The district court also certified the case as a class action. The State appealed to the Ninth Circuit, asking the court to reverse the preliminary injunction on appeal.

The amicus brief supports plaintiff-appellee and urges the court of appeals to affirm the district court's order. The brief explains that the termination of food assistance to this already vulnerable population would dramatically increase the barriers faced by immigrant victims who seek to escape from abusive relationships and achieve safety and self-sufficiency in the long term. Given the irreparable harm that Ms. Pimentel and other class members who are victims of domestic violence would suffer from the loss of food benefits, the brief argues that the preliminary injunction should be affirmed under relevant Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit precedents.

The Kaye Scholer team included Saul P. Morgenstern, Stacey A. Lara, Neal Hampton, Gurnel Jean-Louis and Susanna Y. Chu.

Jay W. Waks, pro bono member of the board of directors and General Counsel of Legal Momentum, coordinated Kaye Scholer’s lead role in the preparation of this important amicus brief.


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