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.




Current Caseload

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

Current status: District Court granted NWIRP’s motions for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction. NWIRP is moving forward now with discovery and the government has responded with a motion to dismiss.

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. Current status: District Court denied the government’s motion to dismiss and certified four nationwide class. Now in discovery.

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: District Court denied the government’s motion to dismiss and certified a nationwide class. Now in discovery.

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: The District Court granted the plaintiff’s motion for a temporary restraining order requiring that the unlawful immigration hold be lifted. The County has appealed this finding to the Ninth Circuit, with the County’s opening brief due in a week.

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

Class action lawsuit challenging the federal government’s policy & practice of subjecting certain immigrants to mandatory detention without the possibility of bond. Current status: The district court certified the class and granted summary judgment, ordering the government to grant bond hearings to the class. The government appealed. The Ninth Circuit upheld the favorable ruling. However, the government filed a petition seeking review by the United States Supreme Court. We are currently waiting on the Supreme Court to decide whether it will hear the case

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

Damages action against the Unites States and an individually against ICE prosecutor. who forged documents that 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: The District Court ruled that the damages action could proceed against the United States but not against the individual federal attorney responsible for the forgery. Our plaintiff appealed that decision and agreed to stay the proceedings against the United States while the Ninth Circuit resolves the appeal. Oral argument has been scheduled for 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 The Court has now ordered the government to respond to the petition for rehearing

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: District Court granted the government’s motion to dismiss in part relying on Padilla-Ramirez (see above) and now addressing motion for class certification with respect to other claims.

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: Case filed August 2017.

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: stayed pending the Supreme Court’s resolution of the appeals in IRAP v. Trump and Hawai‘i v. Trump.

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: After the district court ruled against the government on their motion to dismiss, the government appealed. The Ninth Circuit granted the appeal, holding that the district court lacked jurisdiction over this case. Plaintiffs filed a petition for panel rehearing/rehearing en banc and are currently awaiting a decision on their petition.

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: District Court certified nationwide class with respect to asylum applicants after dismissing other claims.

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: After the district court granted plaintiff summary judgment, the government appealed to the Ninth Circuit. The Ninth Circuit denied the appeal in published decision, finding that the government’s interpretation violates the plain statutory language, clarifying the right of all TPS recipients in the ninth circuit to apply for adjustment of status when they have approved visa petition filed by immediate relatives. Motion for fees pending before the court.

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

Challenge to revocation of DACA in violation of controlling guidelines. Current status: The district court ordered that petitioner be granted a bond hearing, upon which he was granted a bond and released. Government filed motion to dismiss amended complaint, and individual officers filed motion to dismiss damages claims. Motions pending.

J.L.G. v. Sessions, 16-73801 (9th Cir.)

Petition for review challenging the removal order of an unrepresented minor on various grounds, but focusing on the government’s failure to appoint him counsel, which constituted a violation of the child’s constitutional and statutory rights. Current status: briefing & oral argument have been completed; awaiting a decision by the Ninth Circuit on the case

Cesareo Tapia-Ibarra v. Sessions, 16-73410 (9th Cir.)

Petition for review challenging denial of motion to reopen where Immigration Judge Ordered father removed in absentia after he had attended prior hearings and filed application for relief, but became confused after his hearing was continued for more than a year by the court. Current status: opening and answering briefing have been completed.

Susan Alfaro Cabrera v. Sessions, 16-70835 (9th Cir.)

Petition for review challenging removal order and denial of application for asylum where petitioner fled persecution based on her church and family’s work to rehabilitate gang members, which ultimately led to two of her family members being tortured and assassinated. Current status: briefing completed and awaiting oral arguments.

Vu Nguyen v. Sessions, 17-70251 (9th Cir.)

Petition for review challenging removal order and denial of application for cancellation of removal. Current status: Ninth Circuit granted petitioner’s motion for stay of removal and now scheduled for briefing.


Published Decisions