Impact Litigation

Impact Litigation Team

 

When laws and policies are unjust, we work for systemic change. During the last decade, we have positively affected many important cases with implications for national immigration laws. Our impact litigation work has helped fight racial profiling by border patrol officials in the Olympic Peninsula, secured the right to an attorney for mentally ill immigrants facing deportation, and ensured that immigrants are considered for conditional parole from detention when they qualify.

To respond to the growth of immigration appeals at the Federal and Ninth District Courts, we increased our focus in this area by establishing a new legal unit in 2005. At any one time, the Impact Litigation Unit has several cases pending before the federal courts. NWIRP was invited by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to speak at a roundtable discussion on how to deal with the Circuit's large volume of immigration cases.

 

Current Caseload

Nightingale, et al., v. USCIS, et al., 19-cv-03512-WHO (N.D. Cal.)

Class action under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) challenging the systematic delay by USCIS and ICE to respond to requests for immigration files (often referred to as A-Files). Those files are needed by immigrants to defend themselves in removal proceedings and to move forward with their applications for immigration benefits. The FOIA statute requires the government to respond within 20 days and yet immigrants are systematically forced to wait for several months before the government responds.

Current Status:
On October 15, 2019, the district court certified two nationwide classed challenging both USCIS and ICE’s failure to timely submit responses to FOIA requests for A-files.
Read the class certification here
 

Mendoza Garcia v. Okanogan County, et al., No. 2:19-cv-00340 (E.D. Wash.)

Individual § 1983 claim seeking damages and declaratory relief against Okanogan County, the Okanogan County Sheriff's Office, and the Okanagan County Department of Corrections for unlawfully holding Ms. Mendoza Garcia for two days after she was ordered to be released on her own recognizance from the Okanogan County Jail. The county kept Ms. Mendoza Garcia in custody solely on the basis of an administrative immigration detainer from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which does not afford the county legal authority to hold someone.

Current status:
Complaint filed

 

Enrique Ahumada-Meza v. City of Marysville and Matthew Goolsby, No. 2:19-cv-1165 (W.D. Wash.)

Individual § 1983 claim seeking damages and declaratory relief against the City of Marysville for unlawfully holding Mr. Ahumada-Meza overnight after he was ordered to be released from the Marysville Detention Center. The city kept Mr. Ahumada-Meza in custody solely on the basis of an administrative immigration detainer, which does not afford the City legal authority to hold someone.

Current status:
Complaint filed

 

Moreno Galvez, et al., 2:19-cv-321 (W.D. Wash.)

Class action on behalf of petitioners for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) challenging USCIS's new and unlawful policy of denying SIJS for youth who obtained the necessary state court orders after they turned 18. The new policy violates the controlling statute by refusing to honor state court SIJS orders issued to youth after they turned 18 but before they turned 21. The Immigration and Nationality Act makes clear that any unmarried youth under 21 years of age is eligible to apply for SIJS if a state court makes findings that the youth is unable to be reunited with one or both parents because they have been abandoned, abused, or neglected, and that it is not in the youth's best interest to return to their country of origin.

Current status:
Complaint filed
Plaintiffs' motion for class certification
Plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunctive relief

After oral arguments on July 16, 2019, Judge Robert S. Lasnik granted Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification and Motion for Preliminary Injunction. The government was enjoined from denying SIJS on the grounds that a Washington state court does not have authority to "reunify" a child with their parent, and was also enjoined from initiating removal proceedings against or removing any SIJS petitioner whose petition was denied on those grounds. USCIS moved for reconsideration, and on August 23, Judge Lasnik denied the government's motion." I'm attaching the orders granting class certification and preliminary injunction.

 

Padilla v. ICE, et al., 2:18-cv-928 (W.D. Wash.)

Class-action lawsuit challenging delays in process for asylum seekers. The case seeks to shorten the length of time asylum seekers are detained, since they are currently forced to wait in detention for weeks and in many cases months for credible fear interviews and bond hearings.

Current status:
Complaint filed
Plaintiffs' motion for class certification
Second amended complaint
Amended motion for class certification
Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction
Defendants' opposition to the motion for preliminary injunction
Plaintiffs' reply in support of the motion for preliminary injunction
Order dismissing APA claims and partially denying Defendants' motion to dismiss
Order granting class certification
Order granting preliminary injunction

In March of 2019, the court granted nationwide class certification for both the credible fear interview class and the bond hearing class, and in April, the court granted plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction. On April 16, 2019, the Attorney General issued a Board of Immigration Appeals decision in Matter of M-S- which sought to eliminate bond hearings altogether for class members. Plaintiffs filed a third amended complaint and a motion to modify the existing preliminary injunction, and defendants moved to vacate the preliminary injunction. On July 2, Judge Pechman upheld the modification of the preliminary injunction and denied defendants' motion. Defendants appealed the court's order, and parties are currently engaged in briefing at the Ninth Circuit. Bond hearings without procedural protections were restored to class members.

Third amended complaint filed
Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction modification
Defendants opposition to plaintiffs' motion to modify preliminary injunction
Ninth Circuit Court order
Order on motions regarding preliminary injunction
Order on class certification
Ninth Circuit brief for apellants
plaintiffs answering brief

The attorneys on the Padilla litigation team have created these Frequently Asked Questions documents in English and Spanish for individuals who may potentially be affected by updates in the case, as well as for for practitioners representing those individuals.
Padilla FAQ, English
Preguntas Frecuentes, Español

 

Martinez Baños, et al., v. Asher, et al., 2:16-cv-1454 (W.D. Wash.)

Petition for writ of habeas corpus and putative class action seeking the provision of individualized custody redetermination (bond) hearings for individuals in withholding-only proceedings who are subject to prolonged detention in the Western District of Washington.

Current status:
Complaint filed
Amended complaint filed
Amended motion for class certification filed
Motion for summary judgment filed
Order granting class certification, adopting report and recommendation.
Defendants have appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit.
Ninth Circuit opening brief
Government's reply brief
Plantiffs' answering brief

 

Moreno, et al., v. Nielsen, et al., 1:18-cv-01135 (E.D. New York)

Class action on behalf of recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) who reside in Circuit Court jurisdictions where USCIS routinely fails to acknowledge TPS as satisfying the requirement for inspection and admission in order to adjust their status and receive lawful permanent residency. However, the Sixth and Ninth Circuits have held that a TPS holder is considered in “lawful status as a nonimmigrant” and therefore eligible to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR). Class members assert that Defendants’ failure to grant applications for LPR status to TPS holders is in violation of the TPS statute.

Current status:
Complaint filed
Amended complaint filed
Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment was filed
Plaintiffs' amended motion for class certification
Plaintiffs' opposition to motion to dismiss, motion for summary judgment
Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order
Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order

 

Reynaga Hernandez v. Skinner, et al., 1:18-cv-00040 (Dist. of Montana)

Individual § 1983 claim seeking damages and declaratory relief against a Yellowstone County judge and deputy sheriff for unlawfully detaining and arresting plaintiff while he was testifying on behalf of his wife at Yellowstone County Justice Court. Mr. Reynaga asserts both that the Defendant judge overstepped his authority in calling local law enforcement from the Yellowstone County Courthouse, and also that local law enforcement overstepped authority in arresting and detaining Plaintiff without probable cause that he had committed any crime. Mr. Reynaga's motion for summary judgment was granted on his § 1983 claims, and defendants have appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit. Parties are currently briefing the case at the Ninth.

Current status:
Complaint filed
Defendants' answer to complaint
Defendant Skinner's Motion for Summary Judgment
Defendant Hernandez's Motion for Summary Judgment
Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment
Opinion and order granting summary judgment
Ninth Circuit opening brief

 

Mendez Rojas, et al., v. Johnson, et al., 2:16-cv-1024 (W.D. Wash.)

Class action on behalf of asylum seekers challenging the federal government’s failure to give them notice of the one-year deadline for filing asylum applications as well as its failure to guarantee them a mechanism through which to abide by that deadline. The district court granted plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and closed the case, requiring the government to adopt a notice of the one-year filing deadline within 90 days. The government is also ordered to provide notice to all class members who have already been released, and to accept as timely any asylum application from a class member filed within one year of the date of adoption of the new notice policy.

Current status:
Complaint filed
Motion for class certification filed
Order granting class certification
Order denying government’s motion to dismiss
Motion for summary judgment filed
Order granting summary judgment.
Frequently asked questions about the Mendez-Rojas decision

 

NWIRP and Cheng v. Sessions III, et al., 2:17-cv-716 (W.D. Wash.)

Lawsuit against EOIR seeking declaratory and injunctive relief in response to letter from DOJ instructing NWIRP to cease-and-desist providing limited legal services to unrepresented individuals in removal proceedings.

Current status:
Complaint filed
Motion for temporary restraining order filed
Order granting TRO
Motion for preliminary injunction filed
Order granting PI
Order denying in part and granting in part the government's motion to dismiss
The parties stipulated to mediation and stay of proceedings, and are currently working toward reaching a potential settlement

 

Wagafe, et al., v. Trump, et al., 2:17-cv-94 (W.D. Wash.)

Class action challenging the federal government’s Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (“CARRP”), an internal vetting program used in evaluating applications before USCIS. Plaintiffs allege the program discriminates against immigrants who are Muslim or from Muslim-majority countries on the basis of their religion and country of origin, and has unlawfully prevented class members from having their applications for adjustment of status and naturalization adjudicated by USCIS.

Current status:
Complaint filed
Motion for class certification
Order denying the government’s motion to dismiss and certifying a nationwide class
Order Granting in Part Plaintiffs' Motion for Sanctions
Order Granting in Part Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel
The parties are currently briefing on discovery disputes.

 

Lanuza v. Love, 2:14-cv-1641 (W.D. Wash.), 15-35408 (9th Cir.)

FTCA damages action against the Unites States and Bivens claim against an ICE prosecutor who forged documents he submitted to the immigration court in order to deprive the plaintiff of his statutory right to seek a form of immigration relief. On August 6, 2019, the district court granted the U.S.'s motion to dismiss and struck the motions for summary judgment as moot.

Current status:
Complaint filed
Order granting in part and denying in part Defendants’ motions to dismiss —dismissing individual Bivens claim against Mr. Love, but permitting FTCA claim in part to move forward against Defendant USA
Order denying Defendant U.S. subsequent motions to dismiss. Arguments at the Ninth Circuit appealing the dismissal of Bivens case against Defendant Love heard on October 3, 2017
On August 14, 2018, the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court order dismissing the Bivens remedy and affirmed the order denying qualified immunity to Mr. Love
On October 9, 2018 the Ninth Circuit remanded the case back to the district court.
Court decision

 

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, et al., v. USCIS, et al., 15-cv-0813 (W.D. Wash.)

Class action challenge to government’s failure to provide interim employment authorization for asylum applicants and for other applications where USCIS delays in resolving underlying applications.

Current status:
On July 26, 2018, in a national class action, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington ruled that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must adjudicate asylum applicants’ initial (first time) applications for employment authorization documents (EADs) within 30 days. USCIS is currently required to follow the Judge's decision, but has appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Details regarding this case and how to obtain benefits under it are described in more detail in this practice advisory.

 

Ramirez Medina v. Asher, 17-cv-00218 (W.D. Wash.)

Challenge to revocation of DACA in violation of controlling guidelines. Plaintiff filed a third amended complaint and a second motion for preliminary injunction. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss and motion for summary judgment. On October 9, 2019, the court denied Mr. Ramirez Medina's motion for summary judgment and granted the government's motion to dismiss the case.

Current status:
Complaint filed
Order that petitioner be granted a bond hearing, upon which he was granted a bond and released. The government filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint, and individual officers a filed motion to dismiss damages claims
Order denying the motion to dismiss the amended complaint.
On September 4, 2018, the court denied in part plaintiff's motion to complete administrative record and granted in part defendants' motion for a protective order
Third amended complaint
Second motion for preliminary injunction
Defendants' motion to dismiss third amended complaint
Defendants' opposition to plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction
Plaintiff's reply in support of motion for second preliminary injunction
Plaintiff's opposition to defendants' motion to dismiss
Defendants' reply in support of motion to dismiss
Order denying plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and granting defendant's motion to dismiss

 

Impact Litigation Unit—prior litigation

J.E.F.M., et al., v. Holder, et al., 2:14-cv-1026 (W.D. Wash.), 15-33758 (9th Cir.)

Ninth-circuit-wide class action seeking the recognition that the Constitution and the Immigration and Nationality Act require government-appointed counsel for unrepresented minors in removal proceedings.

Current status:
Complaint filed
Motion for class certification filed
Order granting class certification
Order denying in part government’s motion to dismiss
On appeal, order from Ninth Circuit granting appeal dismissing claims for lack of jurisdiction. Petition for rehearing en banc filed
The petition for rehearing en banc was denied on November 13, 2018
The panel denied plaintiff's petition for review of a Board of Immigration Appeals decision and held that it is not established law that minors in immigration court are entitled to court-appointment counsel
Oral arguments for a similar case before the Ninth Circuit, arguing for a categorical right to court-appointed counsel for minors (C.J.L.G. v. Whitaker et al.), were heard en banc on December 10, 2018.
Opinion from the re-hearing en banc of CJLG

 

Khoury v. Asher, 14-35482 (9th Cir.), 16-1363 (SCOTUS)

Class action lawsuit challenging the federal government’s policy and practice of subjecting immigrants to mandatory detention (without the possibility of bond) even though they were not taken directly into immigration custody when released from criminal custody.

Current status: Complaint filed.
Motion for class certification filed
Motion for summary judgment filed
District court order certifying class and granting summary judgment, ordering the government to grant bond hearings to the class
On appeal heard with Preap v. Johnson
Order from Ninth Circuit upholding favorable ruling
Order from the United States Supreme Court granting government’s petition for certiorari combined with Preap v. Johnson
Arguments for Nielsen v. Preap were heard before the Supreme Court on October 10, 2018.
Supreme Court decision upholding mandatory detention

 

Rodriguez Macareno v. Thomas, et al., 18:cv-0421 (W.D. Wash.)

Individual § 1983 claim seeking damages, declaratory relief, and injunctive relief against Tukwila Police Department for actions taken against him and their policies and practices countenancing such actions: namely, seizing him—the victim of a crime who sought police assistance—in order to investigate his immigration status, and subsequently extending his seizure in order to communicate with federal immigration enforcement officers and effectuate his transfer to federal immigration custody. Mr. Rodriguez asserts that Defendants have no authority to detain or extend any detention for purposes of investigating immigration status or transferring custody of an individual to federal immigration authorities, and that such actions violate his Fourth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. On May 8, the court granted Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment, ruling that defendant officers violated the Fourth Amendment seizing Mr. Rodriguez. Plaintiff settled all remaining claims against defendants.

Current status:
Complaint filed
Plaintiff's motion for protective order
Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment regarding qualified immunity
Plaintiff's opposition to Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment
ACLU Amicus brief
Defendants' reply in support of their motion for partial summary judgment regarding qualified immunity
Defendants' motion for summary judgment dismissal of all claims
Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment
Order granting plaintiff's motion for a protective order and denying defendant's motion to compel
Motion for Summary Judgment

 

Sanchez Ochoa v. Campbell, et al., 1:17-cv-3124 (E.D. Wash.), 17-35679 (9th Cir.)

Individual lawsuit seeking damages and declaratory/injunctive relief against Yakima County for its unlawful policy and practice of placing immigration holds on individuals in its custody on the basis of ICE administrative warrants, which do not afford the County the requisite legal authority to hold these individuals.

Current status:
Complaint filed
Motion for temporary restraining order filed
Order from district court granting the plaintiff's motion for a temporary restraining order requiring that the unlawful immigration hold be lifted
The Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeal as moot, remanding case to district court
Defendants' motion for summary judgment
Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment
Order denying cross-motions for summary judgment
The parties reached a settlement and Yakima County agreed to change its policy related to immigration holds.

Ali, et al., v. Trump, et al., 2:17-cv-135 (W.D. Wash.)

Putative class action challenging President Trump’s unlawful suspension of immigrant visa applications via executive order.

Current status:
Complaint filed; motion for class certification filed
Order staying case pending the Supreme Court’s resolution of the appeals in IRAP v. Trump and Hawai‘i v. Trump.
On September 20, 2018, Plaintiffs voluntary moved to dismiss the case without prejudice, and the case was closed on September 21, 2018.

Olivera Silva v. Campbell, et al., 1:17-cv-03215 (W.D. Wash.)

Individual § 1983 claim seeking damages, declaratory, and injunctive relief against Yakima County for failing to release Mr. Olivera after he posted bond, and for Defendants’ unlawful policy and practice of placing immigration holds on individuals in its custody on the basis of ICE administrative warrants, which do not afford the County the requisite legal authority to hold these individuals.

Current status:
Complaint filed
Defendants' answer to complaint
Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgement
Plaintiff accepted Defendants' offer of judgment and the case is now closed.

Padilla-Ramirez v. Bible, 16-35385 (9th Cir.)

Challenge to the government’s authority to detain individuals in withholding-only proceedings without affording them bond hearings.

Current status:
NWIRP joined prior counsel to file a petition for rehearing en banc after the Ninth Circuit ruled against petitioner, finding that the petitioner was not entitled to a bond hearing.
The court denied the petition and issued an amended opinion.
Filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court.
The petition for writ of certiorari was denied on October 29, 2018

Jesus Ramirez v. Dougherty, et al., 14-35633 (9th Cir.)

APA challenge to USCIS policy denying persons with Temporary Protected Status opportunity to apply for adjustment of status based on U.S. citizen immediate relative.

Current status: District Court order granting plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment. Order from Ninth Circuit upholding district court’s order, finding the government’s interpretation violates the plain statutory language, and clarifying the right of all TPS recipients in the Ninth Circuit to apply for adjustment of status when they have approved visa petitions filed by immediate relatives.

Gomez Maciel v. Coleman and City of Spokane, 2:17-cv-292 (E.D. Wash.)

Individual damages action against police officer and the City of Spokane for unlawful arrest of plaintiff—who was the victim of a traffic accident—while the police officer contacted CBP about the plaintiff and waited for CBP to arrive on the scene.

Current status: Complaint filed. Settlement entered, providing damages for Plaintiff, revision to the Spokane Police Department policy manual, and training to officers.

Published Decisions