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Case Name Ngwanyia v. Ashcroft IM-MN-0005
Docket / Court 0:02-cv-00502-RHK-AJB ( D. Minn. )
State/Territory Minnesota
Case Type(s) Immigration
Case Summary
On March 4, 2002, attorneys with the American Immigration Law Foundation and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota on behalf of immigrants granted asylum in the U.S., alleging that federal immigration agencies ... read more >
On March 4, 2002, attorneys with the American Immigration Law Foundation and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota on behalf of immigrants granted asylum in the U.S., alleging that federal immigration agencies and officials had improperly administered the system and waiting list that determined when asylees could become lawful permanent residents and failed to provide asylees with proper employment endorsements. Plaintiffs alleged violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.; the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 551 et seq.; and the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fifth Amendment. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as class certification.

At issue was the government's handing of "refugee admission numbers." Under the Refugee Act of 1980, the President could annually authorize the admission of up to 50,000 refugees to the U.S. Out of that number, the Attorney General could use up to 10,000 refugee admission numbers to grant lawful permanent resident status (green card) to asylees already in the U.S. Plaintiffs alleged that between 1994 and 2002, over 20,000 refugee admission numbers that had been set aside by the Attorney General for asylee adjustment went unused and that defendants should have used those numbers to clear out the backlog of asylees who applied for green cards. Plaintiffs further claimed that once refugees were granted asylum the government was required to provide proper work papers to the asylees, but it continually failed to do so. Defendants denied the allegations and took the position that unused refugee admission numbers expired at the end of each fiscal year.

On January 14, 2003, the District Court (Judge Richard H. Kyle) certified the case as a class action on behalf of tens of thousands of asylees, defining the class and subclasses as:

All asylees in the United States who have applied for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence and whose applications for adjustment remain pending;

Subclass I - All asylees who filed their adjustment of status applications with the INS on or before January 16, 1998;

Subclass II - All asylees who filed their adjustment of status applications after January 16, 1998, and on or before June 9, 1998;

Subclass III - All asylees who filed their adjustment of status applications after June 9, 1998;

Subclass IV - All asylees who applied for or applied to renew an Employment Authorization Document.

The parties then filed cross-motions for summary judgment. By Memorandum Opinion and Order dated February 12, 2004, Judge Kyle denied defendants' motion for summary judgment and granted plaintiffs' cross-motion for summary judgment. Judge Kyle ordered the defendants to (1) use all unused and misused asylee adjustment numbers that had been made available in prior years to adjust the status of asylees and (2) provide all asylees with an employment authorization endorsement that was valid throughout the duration of the alien's status as an asylee. Ngwanyia v. Ashcroft, 302 F.Supp.2d 1076 (D.Minn.,2004). Defendants appealed.

Settlement negotiations followed, and the parties reached a proposed settlement agreement in January 1995. The defendants' appeal was stayed pending court approval of the settlement. The Court conducted a fairness hearing on June 15, 2005 and formally approved the class settlement on July 12, 2005. Ngwanyia v. Gonzales, 376 F.Supp.2d 923 (D.Minn. 2005). Under the Settlement Agreement, the government agreed to make an additional 31,000 asylee adjustment numbers available during 2005-2008 to adjust the status of asylees who had applied for permanent residence. The Agreement also provided for changes to the issuance of work permits to asylees.

Dan Dalton - 11/19/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Immigration
Asylum - criteria
Asylum - procedure
Constitutional rights
Employment
Status/Classification
U.S. citizenship - acquiring
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.
Bivens
Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Defendant(s) Department of Homeland Security
Immigration and Naturalization Service
U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services
United States Attorney General
Plaintiff Description All asylees in the United States who have applied for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence and whose applications for adjustment remain pending; 4 separate subclasses established.
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 2005 - 2008
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
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)
0:02-cv-00502-RHK-AJB (D. Minn.) 09/02/2008
IM-MN-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Plaintiffs' Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants’ Motion to Transfer 07/03/2002
IM-MN-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification 07/25/2002
IM-MN-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
First Amended Complaint Declaratory, Mandamus for Injunctive and Relief - Class Action 10/10/2002
IM-MN-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Re: Transfer] 10/10/2002 (2002 WL 31371947 / 2002 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 20144) (D. Minn.)
IM-MN-0005-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Re: Class Certification] 01/14/2003 (D. Minn.)
IM-MN-0005-0004.pdf | Detail
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Re: Summary Judgment] 02/12/2004 (302 F.Supp.2d 1076) (D. Minn.)
IM-MN-0005-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Settlement Agreement 01/31/2005
IM-MN-0005-0007.pdf | Detail
Notice of Proposed Settlement Agreement 05/06/2005
IM-MN-0005-0006.pdf | Detail
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Re: Settlement Agreement] 07/12/2005 (376 F.Supp.2d 923) (D. Minn.)
IM-MN-0005-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Boylan, Arthur J. (D. Minn.) [Magistrate]
IM-MN-0005-9000
Kyle, Richard House (D. Minn.)
IM-MN-0005-0004 | IM-MN-0005-0005 | IM-MN-0005-0008 | IM-MN-0005-0009 | IM-MN-0005-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Gomez, Iris (Massachusetts)
IM-MN-0005-0001 | IM-MN-0005-0002 | IM-MN-0005-0003 | IM-MN-0005-0004 | IM-MN-0005-0005 | IM-MN-0005-0008 | IM-MN-0005-0009 | IM-MN-0005-9000
Hong, Traci (District of Columbia)
IM-MN-0005-0001 | IM-MN-0005-0002 | IM-MN-0005-0003 | IM-MN-0005-0004 | IM-MN-0005-0009 | IM-MN-0005-9000
Kenney, Mary (District of Columbia)
IM-MN-0005-0001 | IM-MN-0005-0002 | IM-MN-0005-0003 | IM-MN-0005-0004 | IM-MN-0005-0005 | IM-MN-0005-0008 | IM-MN-0005-0009 | IM-MN-0005-9000
Langdon, James K II (Minnesota)
IM-MN-0005-0001 | IM-MN-0005-0002 | IM-MN-0005-0003 | IM-MN-0005-0004 | IM-MN-0005-0005 | IM-MN-0005-0008 | IM-MN-0005-0009 | IM-MN-0005-9000
Wettstein, Nadine K. (District of Columbia)
IM-MN-0005-0001 | IM-MN-0005-0002 | IM-MN-0005-0003 | IM-MN-0005-0004 | IM-MN-0005-0005 | IM-MN-0005-0006 | IM-MN-0005-0007 | IM-MN-0005-0008 | IM-MN-0005-0009 | IM-MN-0005-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Friedman, Nancy E (District of Columbia)
IM-MN-0005-0006 | IM-MN-0005-0007 | IM-MN-0005-0008 | IM-MN-0005-9000
Heffelfinger, Thomas (Minnesota)
IM-MN-0005-0004 | IM-MN-0005-0009
Lightbody, Jennifer L (District of Columbia)
IM-MN-0005-0005 | IM-MN-0005-9000
Mack, Greg D. (District of Columbia)
IM-MN-0005-0004 | IM-MN-0005-0005 | IM-MN-0005-0009 | IM-MN-0005-9000
McCallum, Robert D. Jr. (District of Columbia)
IM-MN-0005-0004 | IM-MN-0005-0009
Perry, Margaret (District of Columbia)
IM-MN-0005-0004 | IM-MN-0005-0009
Siekert, Fred (Minnesota)
IM-MN-0005-0004 | IM-MN-0005-0005 | IM-MN-0005-0008 | IM-MN-0005-0009 | IM-MN-0005-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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