Impact Litigation

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.

 

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Current Caseload

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, plantiffs' motion for class certification, second amended complaint, amended motion for class certification.

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.

Current status: Complaint filed.

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; Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment filed. Hearing scheduled for June 8, 2018.

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 & recommendation. Order granting summary judgment for class members adopting report & recommendation.

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.

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.

Current status: Complaint filed.

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 and denying government’s motion to dismiss. Motion for summary judgment filed. Order granting 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 plaintiffs’ 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.

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 (PI) filed. Order granting PI.

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 filed. Order denying the government’s motion to dismiss and certifying a nationwide class.

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.

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.

Current status: Complaint filed. Order granting in part and denying in part Defendants’ motions to dismiss—dismissing individual Bivens claim against Mr. Lanuza, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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: Complaint filed. Motion for class certification filed. Order from Court granting in part motion for class certification with respect to pending asylum applicants’ claims. Order granting in part government’s motion to dismiss based on modified regulations.

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

Challenge to revocation of DACA in violation of controlling guidelines.

Current status: Complaint filed. Order that petitioner be granted a bond hearing, upon which he was granted a bond and released. The government filed motion to dismiss amended complaint, and individual officers filed motion to dismiss damages claims. Order denying the motion to dismiss the amended complaint.

 

Impact Litigation Unit—prior litigation

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