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Case Name Lopez v. Ezell IM-CA-0037
Docket / Court 88-1825 JLI (BTM) ( S.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Immigration
Case Summary
On November 30, 1988, alien workers who had applied for special status under the Special Agricultural Workers (SAW) legalization program created by the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1160 et seq., filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California to ... read more >
On November 30, 1988, alien workers who had applied for special status under the Special Agricultural Workers (SAW) legalization program created by the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1160 et seq., filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California to enjoin federal border agents from detaining and questioning them with regard to their underlying applications. Plaintiffs were represented by attorneys with the California Rural Legal Assistance, the ACLU Foundation of San Diego and Imperial Counties Inc. and private counsel.

The SAW program allowed undocumented alien farmworkers to attain temporary and then permanent resident status under certain circumstances. Once applicants filed a complete SAW application, were interviewed by an INS legalization officer, and had their application accepted, they were issued an "I-688A" document authorizing employment and travel abroad pending final approval of their application. Applicants that filed preliminary applications for SAW status at the ports of entry and were interviewed received an "I-94" document, endorsed as "S-9", authorizing employment and temporary admission into the U.S. to enable them to gather information and documents in support of a full SAW application. Plaintiffs challenged treatment of aliens who possessed either I-688A documents or I-94 documents.

Plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction to enjoin border agents and non-legalization INS officers from: 1) detaining SAW applicants and confiscating their I-688A and I-94 documents at or near the U.S./Mexican border; 2) questioning applicants with regards to alleged fraud in the underlying application; and 3) permitting applicants to enter only under a "parole" status. Plaintiffs also requested class certification.

On May 1, 1989, the parties entered into a Stipulated Consent Order which resolved all issues, except plaintiffs' request that border agents be prohibited from questioning applicants about their SAW applications. Plaintiffs maintained that as the information submitted in a SAW application was deemed confidential by statute, agents should not be permitted to question applicants about it. The District Court (Judge J. L. Irving) refused to grant an injunction on that issue. Lopez v. Ezell,716 F.Supp. 443 S.D.Cal.,1989.

Defendants' moved to dismiss the remaining unresolved claim. That motion was denied by order dated May 14, 1990. The District Court referred the case to Magistrate Judge Barry T. Moskowitz to supervise discovery.

On May 30, 1991, the parties settled the remaining claim. Formal court approval of the settlement occurred on September 16, 1991. Defendants subsequently agreed to pay $58,000.00 in attorneys' fees and costs.

On January 27, 1992, District Judge Marilyn L. Huff granted the parties joint motion for voluntary dismissal and the case was terminated.

Dan Dalton - 11/06/2007

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Border police
Constitutional rights
Temporary foreign workers program
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.
Defendant(s) Immigration and Naturalization Service
Plaintiff Description Immigrants who had completed applications under the Special Agricultural Workers (SAW) legalization program and were issued an “I-688A” document or “I-94” document.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1989 - 1992
Case Closing Year 1992
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Threats to the Future of the Immigration Class Action
Washington University Journal of Law and Policy
By: Jill E. Family (Widener University School of Law)
Citation: 27 Wash. U. J.L. & Pol'y 71 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

3:88-cv-01825-H-BTM (S.D. Cal.) 01/29/1992
IM-CA-0037-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum Decision and Order [Re: Preliminary Injunction] 05/11/1989 (716 F.Supp. 443) (S.D. Cal.)
IM-CA-0037-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Irving, J. Lawrence (S.D. Cal.)
Moskowitz, Barry Ted (S.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brigagliano, Christine (California)
IM-CA-0037-0001 | IM-CA-0037-9000
Gonzalez, Lydia (California)
Rosenbaum, Stephen A. (California)
IM-CA-0037-0001 | IM-CA-0037-9000
Salgado, Susana Teresa (California)
IM-CA-0037-0001 | IM-CA-0037-9000
Smith, Claudia E. (California)
Wheeler, Betty (California)
IM-CA-0037-0001 | IM-CA-0037-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Braniff, William (California)
Hamilton, Charles (California)
Kline, David J. (District of Columbia)
Neece, John R. (California)
Schwarz, Norah Ascoli (District of Columbia)
Other Lawyers None on record

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