On August 17, 1989, Proyecto San Pablo, an advocacy organization, and a group of aliens filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, alleging that the INS interpreted and implemented provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 ("IRCA"), 8 U.S.C. § 1255a, in an unlawful manner by denying their applications for legalization on the basis of alleged prior deportations.
At issue in the case, was one of two provisions of the IRCA under which undocumented aliens could obtain legal resident status. 8 U.S.C. §1255a established a one-time only legalization program through which aliens can apply for lawful temporary resident status and then, after a one-year waiting period, apply for permanent residency. To qualify for the program, the alien must have meet certain criteria, which included that the alien must establish that he entered the United States before January 1, 1982, and that he has resided continuously in the United States in an unlawful status since such date and through the date the application is filed under this subsection. 8 U.S.C. § 1255a(a)(2)(A). Plaintiffs challenged the INS's interpretation of a provision that further defined this condition: "The Attorney General shall provide that-(i) an alien shall not be considered to have resided continuously in the United States, if, during any period for which continuous residence is required, the alien was outside the United States as a result of a departure under an order of deportation[.]" 8 U.S.C. § 1255a(g)(2)(B)(i).
Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as class certification. Defendants answered the charges by moving to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim.
In July 1990, the District Court (Judge William D. Browning) denied defendants request to dismiss and certified the case as a class action. The class was defined as consisting of "aliens who, at an INS legalization office located within the INS Western and Northern Regions of the United States, made application for change of status under the IRCA; to whose application 8 C.F.R. § 245a.1 was applied; and whose application was denied."
Following class certification, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. On December 19, 1991, the Court (Judge Browning) entered partial summary judgment in favor of plaintiff and ordered the INS to change the way it interpreted the ICRA. Proyecto San Pablo v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 784 F.Supp. 738, 1 (D. AZ 1989). The Ninth Circuit reversed on jurisdictional grounds. and remanded the case so that the trial court could clarify its order. Proyecto San Pablo v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 70 F.3d 1279, 4 (9th Cir. 1995).
On remand, plaintiff amended the complaint and defendants again moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. The District Court (Judge Browning) granted the defendants' motion to dismiss, finding a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Proyecto San Pablo v. INS, 4 F.Supp.2d 881 (D.Ariz.1997) Plaintiffs appealed.
The District Court (Judge William B. Browning) held that: (1) legalization applicants are given sufficient opportunity to submit evidence into file; (2) INS's timely publication in Federal Register of notice of process necessary for applicants to gain access to their records satisfied procedural due process notice requirements; (3) absence of copies of waiver applications in applicants' files did not render record inadequate for appeal; (4) court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over claim that denial of one new plaintiff's application for legalization was pretextual; and (5) aliens did not establish existence of subject matter jurisdiction over claim that INS failed to follow proper and lawful procedures in terminating temporary lawful resident status of two plaintiffs. Proyecto San Pablo v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 4 F.Supp.2d 881, 1 (D. AZ 1997).
On appeal, the Ninth Circuit (Judge B. Fletcher) held that the District Judge applied the wrong analysis when it held that it had no jurisdiction over the case. The Appeals Court determined that jurisdiction had existed for some of plaintiffs' claims and remanded the case back to the trial court for further litigation on those claims. Proyecto San Pablo v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 189 F.3d 1130, 1 (9th Cir. 1999).
Following the second remand, a trial was held in January 2001. District Judge Browning found in favor of plaintiffs, holding: (1) that INS violated the class members' rights to procedural due process when it failed to provide access to their prior deportation files before making a decision on their legalization application and (2) the INS improperly refused to accept plaintiffs' waiver applications, which precluded those waiver applications from being included in the administrative record and available to a court on subsequent review of a final order of deportation. As a remedial measure, the Court ordered that class members may file motions to reopen their legalization applications, and that the INS was to provide them records of their prior deportation proceedings.
On January 30, 2004, the District Court entered an amended judgment and awarded attorneys' fees to plaintiff in the amount of $735,481.15. Defendants appealed, but the appeal was later dismissed. Further litigation continued over defendants' compliance with the Court's order.
On June 6, 2007, the District Court (Judge Raner C. Collins) ordered defendants to comply with its original order in this matter as it pertains to the adjudication of the class members prior deportations files and waiver applications. Defendants appealed [07-16215].
On December 5, 2008, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judges William C. Canby, Kim McClane Wardlaw, and Richard Mills) affirmed the district court's order. See Proyecto San Pablo v. Dep't of Homeland Sec., 316 Fed. Appx. 565, 566 (9th Cir. 2008). The court found that the district court's requirement that USCIS adjudicate waiver applications on the merits, merely clarifies and enforces its 2001 Judgment and Order. Therefore, it does not constitute review of the decisions USCIS reaches on the merits, and the district court had jurisdiction to issue such an order.
Proyecto San Pablo filed a motion for the award of attorneys' fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act ("EAJA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d). The court granted Proyecto San Pablo's motion for attorneys' fees and referred to the Appellate Commissioner [Peter L. Shaw] the determination of the award amount.
On June 28, 2010, the Appellate Commissioner awarded plaintiffs $31,161.158 in attorneys' fees and expenses. Brian Ponton - 08/30/2007
Jennifer Bronson - 11/27/2013