On March 28, 1997, Nicaraguan aliens filed a class-action complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, challenging the federal government's interpretation of the applicability of the "stop-time" rule for determining eligibility for suspension of deportation.
Prior to the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996, which amended the Immigration and Nationality Act, an alien facing deportation could apply for "suspension of deportation" if he met certain statutory factors, which included that the alien had been "physically present in the U.S. for a continuous period of not less than 10 years after becoming deportable or 7 years after applying for suspension of deportation." Time spent in deportation proceedings counted toward the physical-residence requirement.
The IIRIRA repealed the suspension-of-deportation provision of INA § 244 and replaced it a "cancellation of removal" provision. To be eligible for cancellation of removal, the alien was required to meet certain time requirements of residing in the U.S. The IIRIRA also contained a new "stop-time" provision, under which an alien's period of residence or continuous physical presence in the U.S. was deemed to end once the alien was served with a "notice to appear" for removal proceedings or committed a criminal offense described in INA § 244A(d)(1). Shortly after the enactment of IIRIRA, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) held that the new "stop-time" rule applied to aliens who had applied for suspension of deportation prior to IIRIRA's enactment. Plaintiffs challenged the BIA's application of the "stop-time" rule as violating the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fifth Amendment.
The District Court (Judge James Lawrence King) certified the case as a class action and issued a TRO order against enforcement of INS policy and against the deportation of class members during the pending action. Tefel v. Reno, 972 F.Supp. 608 (S.D.Fla. 1997). Following a hearing, the Court issued a class-wide preliminary injunction prohibiting the enforcement of the stop-time provision of the IIRIRA to pending applications for suspension of deportation. Tefel v. Reno, 972 F.Supp. 623 (S.D.Fla. 1997). The government's motion to dissolve the injunction was denied. Tefel v. Reno, 996 F.Supp. 1 (S.D.Fla. 1998). The government appealed the District Court's orders.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit vacated the District Court's preliminary injunction and remanded the case for further proceedings. Tefel v. Reno, 180 F.3d 1286 (11th Cir.1999). Rehearing en banc was denied. Tefel v. Reno, 198 F.3d 265 (11th Cir. 1999). Certiorari was also denied. Tefel v. Reno, 530 U.S. 1228, 120 S.Ct. 2657, 147 L.Ed.2d 272 (2000).
On remand, the District Court (Patricia A. Seitz) decertified the class and granted summary judgment to all defendants against all plaintiffs, per order dated January 24, 2002. According to the PACER docket, plaintiffs did not appeal the judgment.Dan Dalton - 01/03/2008