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Case Name Lee v. Ashcroft IM-WA-0014
Docket / Court 2:04-cv-00449-RSL ( W.D. Wash. )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Immigration
Case Summary
On February 27, 2004, plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, challenging the policies and procedures used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to adjudicate applications for naturalization. Plaintiffs alleged ... read more >
On February 27, 2004, plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, challenging the policies and procedures used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to adjudicate applications for naturalization. Plaintiffs alleged that the agency failed to apply the correct standard for determining whether applicants have "good moral character" and failed to adjudicate applications within 120 days as prescribed by law. Plaintiffs asserted claims under § 310(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1421(c); the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201; and the Administrative Procedures Act, 5 U.S.C. § 701. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief. Attorneys with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, as well as private counsel, represent the plaintiff class.

Plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction and class certification. The District Court (Judge Robert S. Lasnik) denied class certification on November 24, 2004. A second motion for class certification was granted in part on November 13, 2005.

During the course of the litigation, the District Court entered several stipulated orders, granting judicial naturalization to some of the named petitioners.

On August 10, 2005 the parties entered into a Settlement Agreement. After notice to class members and a fairness hearing, the Agreement was approved by the District Court (Judge Lasnik) on February 16, 2006.

Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agreed to change its process for deciding "good moral character" issues in applications for naturalization. The agency also agreed to reopen denial of naturalization applications of class members whose applications were denied on good moral character grounds. The parties stipulated that the class consisted of:
All persons who have applied or will apply for naturalization in the jurisdiction of the Seattle District Office, and who have been or may be denied on or after May 4, 1998 on the basis of a lack of good moral character, excepting those who have been subsequently naturalized or those who are statutorily barred from naturalization.
On August 17, 2007, the plaintiffs filed a motion to enforce the terms of the settlement agreement. On January 2, 2008, the Court found that motion to be mostly moot, but ordered the defendants to process the application of one of the members of the plaintiff class. Lee v. Gonzales, No. 04-cv-00449, 2008 WL 53175 (W.D. Wash. Jan. 2, 2008). On April 3, 2008, the plaintiffs again filed a motion for enforcement, which the court partially granted on May 19, 2008. The Court ordered the defendants to complete their review of thirty-three applications within thirty days of the order. Lee v. Mukasey, No. 04-cv-00449, 2008 WL 2117064, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122359 (W.D. Wash. May 19, 2008). When the defendants, in a filing styled as a status report, requested additional time to process the remaining applications, the Court (Judge Lasnik) issued a third order regarding enforcement, requiring the defendants to provide detailed information regarding any delays in processing and to make updates on its progress every two months until all class members' applications were adjudicated.

The defendants continued to process applications, submitting six bimonthly status reports to the Court, and on June 8, 2009, the Court (Judge Lasnik) issued its fourth and final order on enforcement, finding that all but three applications had been processed, and ordering the defendants to continue submitting status reports on these applications. On July 1, 2009, the defendants filed their final status report, informing the Court that the last three class members with pending applications had been naturalized.

On September 24, 2009, the Court partially granted a motion by plaintiffs for attorney's fees, awarding them with $58,897.50 for work done prior to the defendants' final status report on July 1. Lee v. Holder, No. 04-cv-00449, 2009 WL 3064794, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92404 (W.D. Wash. Sept. 24, 2009).

Christopher Schad - 07/02/2012


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Immigration
U.S. citizenship - acquiring
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Defendant(s) Department of Homeland Security
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
Plaintiff Description All persons whose application for naturalization was denied by the Seattle District Office on or after May 4, 1998 on the basis of a lack of good moral character, or whose application remained pending for more than 120 days after the initial examination.
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 2006 - 2009
Case Closing Year 2009
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 ]

Docket(s)
2:04-cv-00449-RSL (W.D. Wash.) 05/24/2010
IM-WA-0014-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Plaintiff's Motion to Certify Class 05/20/2004
IM-WA-0014-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint - Class Action 06/29/2004
IM-WA-0014-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement 08/10/2005
IM-WA-0014-0001.pdf | Detail
Stipulation and Order of Protection Regarding Privacy Act Information 11/21/2005 (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0014-0004.pdf | Detail
Individual Notice to Class Members 01/27/2006
IM-WA-0014-0002.pdf | Detail
General Notice - Important Notice Concerning Denial of Citizenship Applications By Seattle, Yakima or Spokane Immigration 01/27/2006
IM-WA-0014-0003.pdf | Detail
Order Regarding Motion to Enforce Compliance 01/02/2008 (2008 WL 53175) (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0014-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Regarding Second Motion to Enforce Compliance 05/19/2008 (2008 WL 2117064 / 2008 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 122359) (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0014-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Third Order Regarding Enforcement of Settlement 08/25/2008 (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0014-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Fourth Order Regarding Enforcement of Settlement 06/08/2009 (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0014-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting in Part Motion for Attorney's Fees 09/24/2009 (2009 WL 3064794 / 2009 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 92404) (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0014-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Lasnik, Robert S. (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0014-0004 | IM-WA-0014-0007 | IM-WA-0014-0008 | IM-WA-0014-0009 | IM-WA-0014-0010 | IM-WA-0014-0011 | IM-WA-0014-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Gibbs, Robert H. (Washington)
IM-WA-0014-0001 | IM-WA-0014-0002 | IM-WA-0014-0004 | IM-WA-0014-0005 | IM-WA-0014-0006 | IM-WA-0014-9000
Soreff, Paul (Washington)
IM-WA-0014-0005 | IM-WA-0014-0006
Theriot-Orr, Devin T. (Washington)
IM-WA-0014-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Corrales-Talleda, Patricia M. (California)
IM-WA-0014-0001 | IM-WA-0014-9000
Hussey, Thomas W. (District of Columbia)
IM-WA-0014-0001
Johnson, Kristin Berger (Washington)
IM-WA-0014-0001 | IM-WA-0014-0004 | IM-WA-0014-9000
Keisler, Peter D. (District of Columbia)
IM-WA-0014-0001
Mckay, John (Washington)
IM-WA-0014-0001 | IM-WA-0014-0004
Seder, Robert Tad (Washington)
IM-WA-0014-9000
Other Lawyers Pauw, Robert (Washington)
IM-WA-0014-0002 | IM-WA-0014-0004 | IM-WA-0014-0006 | IM-WA-0014-9000 | IM-WA-0014-9000
Strawn, Christopher (Washington)
IM-WA-0014-0002 | IM-WA-0014-0004 | IM-WA-0014-0006 | IM-WA-0014-9000

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