On November 15, 2002, eleven immigrant plaintiffs filed this class action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleging that the Chicago office of the INS violated laws, regulations, and INS procedures by accepting prematurely-filed applications for residence ...
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On November 15, 2002, eleven immigrant plaintiffs filed this class action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleging that the Chicago office of the INS violated laws, regulations, and INS procedures by accepting prematurely-filed applications for residence between January 29, 1997 and April 30, 2001. Plaintiffs alleged that after processing the applications, the INS kept the application filing fees and then used information in the applications to investigate and institute removal proceedings against the applicants, in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act, 5 U.S.C. § 706; procedural and substantive due process; and equal protection. Attorneys with the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund, the Midwest Immigrant & Human Rights Center and private firms represented plaintiffs. They sought declaratory and equitable relief.
A different group of plaintiffs had previously challenged the same conduct in a 2001 lawsuit which asserted a different legal theory. That case, Ramos v. Ashcroft, No. 01-CV-2633, was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. See Ramos v. Ashcroft, 2002 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 1918 (Feb. 2, 2002) Three of the plaintiffs in the 2001 suit, along with 8 new plaintiffs filed the 2002 case.
Defendants again moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. The District Court (Judge David H. Coar) denied that motion. See Ramos v. Ashcroft, 2003 F.Supp.2d, 2004 WL 161520 (N.D.Ill. Feb. 14, 2003). Defendants then moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Judge Coar denied the motion as to plaintiffs' Administrative Procedures Act but granted it as to plaintiffs' other claim. Ramos v. Ashcroft, F.Supp.2d, 2004 WL 22282521 (N.D.Ill., Jan. 16, 2004). The case was then transferred to Judge Mark Filip.
Extensive and lengthy settlement negotiations followed, and the parties ultimately reached a resolution. The Court (Judge Filip) preliminarily approved the settlement, pending a fairness hearing on June 10, 2005. Final approval was granted by an order dated August 11, 2005.
Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the government stipulated to certification of the case as a class action, with the class consisting of: "all persons who applied for permanent residence (a green card) pursuant to Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act between 1/29/97 and 4/30/01 in the Chicago Office of the former INS, but who were not then eligible to be approved, because (1) a visa petition was filed before April 30, 2001, but was not yet "current" when the residence application was filed (Class 1); or (2) a visa petition had not been filed for the applicant (Class 2)." The Agreement provided that class members (1) could apply for a credit for application fees for their residence applications; (2) if they were in removal proceedings, could seek the government's agreement to terminate those proceedings for humanitarian reasons within six months of the agreement; and (3) if were not then in removal proceedings, could benefit from a decision not to begin removal proceedings on the basis of their applications. The government also agreed to pay $90,000 in fees to the class counsel for plaintiffs.Dan Dalton - 11/18/2007