Fish & Richardson Helps ACLU of Massachusetts Win Pro Bono Lawsuit Challenging Unlawful “Return to Mexico” Policy for Asylum-Seekers


Adam Kessel

Fish & Richardson won a major ruling in an important pro bono case that challenged a federal immigration policy and allowed five asylum-seekers – three women and two young children – to safely pursue their applications in the United States. Fish teamed up with the ACLU of Massachusetts just two months ago, seeking a preliminary injunction in the federal court for the District of Massachusetts. Judge Indira Talwani granted the motion on May 14, protecting the three families in the lawsuit who months ago were sent by U.S. border officials to Matamoros – a horrifically dangerous border town in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas – until their next court date.

The families have endured living in Matamaros for the chance to seek protection in the U.S., under a Trump administration policy named the “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP). One of the plaintiffs was raped during her time at Matamaros, a place the U.S. State Department has assigned a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” warning due to crime and kidnapping. Under MPP, tens of thousands of asylum-seekers have been sent to Matamaros and similar locations, waiting in peril for many months just to have their cases heard.

“It was an honor to work with the ACLU on this important case, and we are thrilled to be part of this victory,” said Adam Kessel, the principal who led the Fish & Richardson team. “We are very proud of the work we are doing to reunite families seeking legal refuge in the U.S. Many of the families in the U.S. immigration system are fleeing horrific violence and persecution in their home countries and then are forced back into dangerous situations with the unlawful ‘Return to Mexico’ policy. The stakes are high and the need is great, and we will continue to advocate for these brave asylum-seekers.”

In addition to Kessel, the Fish litigation team included principal Riqui Bonilla and associate Eda Stark.

Pro bono work is an integral part of the firm’s professional culture and now more than ever Fish is dedicated to supporting those in need. Over the past year, nearly 75% of the firm’s attorneys have participated in pro bono projects. Last month, Fish won another important pro bono case with the ACLU of Minnesota that gives voters the right to get assistance from the person of their choice at the polls.

Fish & Richardson, the premier global intellectual property law firm, is trusted by the world’s most innovative and influential companies. From patent, trademark, and copyright prosecution and counseling to our full-service litigation practice, we work together to provide our clients with exceptional advocacy across the life cycle of intellectual property needs in the U.S. and around the world. Our deep bench of attorneys with first-chair trial experience in every technology makes us the go-to firm for the most technically complex cases. Fish was established in 1878, and now has more than 400 attorneys and technology specialists in the U.S., Europe, and China. Our success is rooted in our creative and inclusive culture, which values the diversity of people, experiences, and perspectives. For more information, visit or follow us at @FishRichardson.

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