University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Ramos v. Thornburgh IM-TX-0015
Docket / Court 6:89-cv-00042-WWJ ( E.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Immigration
Case Summary
In 1989, a group of refugees from El Salvador who had filed applications for political asylum filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, challenging the way the INS processed their asylum applications and its refusal to issue interim employment ... read more >
In 1989, a group of refugees from El Salvador who had filed applications for political asylum filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, challenging the way the INS processed their asylum applications and its refusal to issue interim employment authorizations while their applications were pending. Specifically, plaintiffs challenged the INS' implementation of regulations contained in 8 C.F.R. § 274 (1986), which permitted an alien who has filed an asylum application to request temporary employment authorization. These regulations required the INS to adjudicate requests for employment authorization within 60 days, and to grant employment authorization to any alien who has filed a "nonfrivolous" asylum application. Plaintiffs alleged that INS was improperly interpreted the term "nonfrivolous" and as a result was the denial of interim employment authorizations that should have been granted.

Plaintiffs requested a preliminary injunction, which the government opposed. As plaintiffs did not move for class certification, the District Court considered the request for injunctive relief only as it applied to the named plaintiffs. On July 21, 1989, the District Court (Judge William W. Justice) determined that there was a likelihood that plaintiffs would succeed in the case as it found that the INS' application of the term "nonfrivolous" was likely unlawful. Judge Justice issued a preliminary injunction on the claims of 12 of the 13 named plaintiffs, ordering the INS to issue them interim employment authorizations. Ramos v. Thornburgh, 732 F.Supp. 696 (E.D.Tex., 1989)

On September 12, 1990, the Court certified the case as a class action. The plaintiff class was divided into two subclasses. The first class was defined as "all asylum applicants who are residing or who resided at the time they submitted their request for employment authorization, within the state of Texas who have requested or will request employment authorization from defendant Attorney General, have not or will not receive a response within sixty days of the request and have not been or will not be granted interim employment authorization." The second subclass was defined as "all asylum applicants who are residing, or who resided at the time they submitted their request for employment authorization, within the state of Texas who have requested or will request employment authorization from defendant Attorney General, and have had or will have such a request denied because of the defendant's determination that the asylum application is frivolous."

The government then moved to dismiss the case, or in the alternative for summary judgment. The Court denied that motion by order dated January 16, 1992.

Litigation proceeded until the Court issued a stay of the case proceedings in 1995. The stay was in effect until March 1007, when the parties filed a joint motion to approve the settlement of the case. In lieu of conducting a fairness hearing to approve the settlement on behalf of all class members, the Court issued an order on August 21, 1997 vacating its order certifying the case as a class action and dismissing all claims pursuant to the private settlement agreement of the named parties. The Court ordered that defendant was to pay attorney's fee to plaintiffs in the sum of $92,500.00.

Dan Dalton - 10/30/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Immigration
Employment
Refugees
Temporary protected status
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 All asylum applicants residing in Texas who have requested, or will request, interim employment authorization and who had not received a response within 60 days or whose request was denied.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 1997
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 ]

Docket(s)
6:89-cv-00042-WWJ (E.D. Tex.) 08/21/1997
IM-TX-0015-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum Opinion 07/21/1989 (732 F.Supp. 696) (E.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0015-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Justice, William Wayne (E.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0015-0001 | IM-TX-0015-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bonesio, Woodrow Michael (Texas)
IM-TX-0015-0001 | IM-TX-0015-9000
Cowger, Walter Scott (Texas)
IM-TX-0015-0001 | IM-TX-0015-9000
Fischer, Richard S. (Texas)
IM-TX-0015-0001
Greenblum, Robert F. (Texas)
IM-TX-0015-9000
Hines, Barbara (Texas)
IM-TX-0015-9000
Rubin, Robert J. (California)
IM-TX-0015-0001 | IM-TX-0015-9000
Spector, Mary (Texas)
IM-TX-0015-0001 | IM-TX-0015-9000
Sperstad-McElyea, Kare J. (Texas)
IM-TX-0015-0001
Teran, Lee J. (Texas)
IM-TX-0015-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Chamovitz, Richard (District of Columbia)
IM-TX-0015-9000
McIntyre, Carl H. (District of Columbia)
IM-TX-0015-9000
Singh, Parker (District of Columbia)
IM-TX-0015-0001 | IM-TX-0015-9000
Yeager, Ruth Harris (Texas)
IM-TX-0015-0001 | IM-TX-0015-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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