University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Haitian Refugee Center, Inc. v. Nelson IM-FL-0019
Docket / Court 1:88-cv-01066-CCA ( S.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Immigration
Case Summary
In 1988, the Haitian Refugee Center, the Migration and Refugee Services of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach, and several individually named alien farmworkers filed a class action in the U.S. District Court Southern District of Florida, alleging that the Immigration and Naturalization ... read more >
In 1988, the Haitian Refugee Center, the Migration and Refugee Services of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach, and several individually named alien farmworkers filed a class action in the U.S. District Court Southern District of Florida, alleging that the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was conducting the initial application review process of the "Special Agricultural Workers" (SAW) amnesty program in an arbitrary manner, violating the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and the applicants' due process rights under the Fifth Amendment.

Under the SAW program, the Attorney General was required to adjust the status of any alien farmworker who could establish that he/she had resided in the U.S. and performed at least 90 days of qualifying agricultural work during the 12-month period prior to May 1, 1986, provided that the alien could also establish his or her admissibility in the U.S. as an immigrant. The qualifying aliens would first be admitted for SAW lawful temporary residence, 8 U.S.C. § 1160(a)(1), and then eventually as lawful permanent residents. 8 U.S.C.§ 1160(a)(2).

Plaintiffs alleged that INS interview procedures were flawed in that they did not allow SAW applicants to be apprised of or challenge the adverse evidence on which their denials were based, that applicants were not allowed to call witnesses on their own behalf, that non-English speaking Haitian applicants were not provided with interpreters, and that administrative review of denials was meaningless because no record of the interviews were made.

The INS moved to dismiss on the grounds that the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 gave the court of appeals exclusive jurisdiction over "determination[s] respecting" a SAW application. The District Court (Judge C. Clyde Atkins) determined that it had jurisdiction, certified a plaintiff class, and granted plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunctive relief. Haitian Refugee Center, Inc. v. Nelson, 694 F.Supp. 864 (S.D.Fla. 1988). The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed. Haitian Refugee Center, Inc. v. Nelson, 872 F.2d 1555 (11th Cir. 1989). The Supreme Court granted certiorari on the limited issue of whether the district court had jurisdiction. McNary v. Haitian Refugee Center, Inc., 496 U.S. 904, 110 S.Ct. 2584, 110 L.Ed.2d 265 (1990).

The Supreme Court (Justice John Paul Stevens) affirmed, holding that the Section of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 which precluded direct review of decisions of INS denying applications for SAW status was limited only on the district court's review of individual denials of SAW status, and did not deprive the district court of jurisdiction to consider a due process challenge to the manner in which SAW provisions were being administered by the INS. McNary v. Haitian Refugee Center, Inc., 498 U.S. 479, 111 S.Ct. 888, 112 L.Ed.2d 1005 (1991).

It is unknown what, if anything, happened with the case after the Supreme Court affirmed the jurisdiction of the district court.

Dan Dalton - 12/21/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Immigration
Employment
Legalization/Amnesty
Status/Classification
Temporary foreign workers program
Work authorization - procedures
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA)
Bivens
Defendant(s) Immigration and Naturalization Service
U.S. Department of Justice
Plaintiff Description Persons who have applied for or will apply for temporary lawful residence status under the SAW program and who have been denied or will be denied SAW status ad a result of defendant's allegedly unlawful practices.
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 Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 1988 - n/a
Case Closing Year 1991
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 ]

Links The Oyez Project, McNary v. Haitian Refugee Center., Inc., 498 U.S. 479 (1991).
www.oyez.org
Posted: Feb. 20, 1991
By: Oyez Project (IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:88-cv-01066-CCA (S.D. Fla.) 09/30/1991
IM-FL-0019-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Order Granting Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Certifying the Class 08/22/1988 (694 F.Supp. 864) (S.D. Fla.)
IM-FL-0019-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
[USCA Opinion] 05/23/1989 (872 F.2d 1555)
IM-FL-0019-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order Granting Writ for Certiorari 06/04/1990 (496 U.S. 904)
IM-FL-0019-0003 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Supreme Court Opinion 02/20/1991 (498 U.S. 479)
IM-FL-0019-0004 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Atkins, Carl Clyde (S.D. Fla.)
IM-FL-0019-0001 | IM-FL-0019-9000
Kaufman, Irving Robert (S.D.N.Y., Second Circuit)
IM-FL-0019-0002
Roney, Paul Hitch (Eleventh Circuit, Fifth Circuit, FISCR)
IM-FL-0019-0002
Vance, Robert Smith (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit)
IM-FL-0019-0002
White, Byron Raymond (SCOTUS)
IM-FL-0019-0004
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Dreeben, Michael R. (District of Columbia)
IM-FL-0019-0004
Guare, Michael D. (Florida)
IM-FL-0019-0001 | IM-FL-0019-0002
Kelleher, Maureen T. (Florida)
IM-FL-0019-0001
Kurzban, Ira J. (Florida)
IM-FL-0019-0001 | IM-FL-0019-0002 | IM-FL-0019-0004
Little, Cheryl (Florida)
IM-FL-0019-0001 | IM-FL-0019-0002
Williams, Robert A. (Florida)
IM-FL-0019-0001 | IM-FL-0019-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Bernal, David V. (District of Columbia)
IM-FL-0019-0001 | IM-FL-0019-0002
Chamovitz, Richard (District of Columbia)
IM-FL-0019-0001
Hausman, Allen W. (District of Columbia)
IM-FL-0019-0002
Kenny, Patricia (Florida)
IM-FL-0019-0001
Other Lawyers Frenzen, Niels (Florida)
IM-FL-0019-0002

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