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Case Name Ruiz-Diaz v. United States IM-WA-0016
Docket / Court 2:07-cv-01881-RSL ( W.D. Wash. )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Immigration
Case Summary
On November 21, 2007, private attorneys filed a national class action in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, challenging the refusal by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (a component of the Department of Homeland Security) to accept concurrent adjustment ... read more >
On November 21, 2007, private attorneys filed a national class action in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, challenging the refusal by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (a component of the Department of Homeland Security) to accept concurrent adjustment of status applications for special immigrant religious workers. It was the general USCIS policy to accept concurrent filing of underlying visa petitions (I-360) with family-based and other employment-based permanent resident applications (I-485). By regulation, however, this approach was not available for those seeking religious worker visas. See 8 C.F.R. § 245.2(a)(2)(i)(B). Plaintiffs contended that the policy violated their constitutional rights to freedom of religion, equal protection, and due process, as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Immigration and Nationality Act. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as class certification. Separate motions for a TRO and Preliminary Injunction to stop the accrual of unlawful presence time was filed with the Complaint and granted December 27, 2007 and Aug. 21, 2008. 2007 WL 4593876; 2008 WL 3928016.

In June 2008, Judge Lasnik granted class action status; the plaintiff class was defined as "all individuals currently in the United States who are beneficiaries of a Petition for Special Immigrant (Religious Worker) (Form I-360) that has been filed or will be filed, and who were or would be eligible to file an Application for Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) but for CIS's policy codified at 8 C.F.R. § 245.2(a) (2)(i)(B) that the Form I-360 petition must be approved before the Form I-485 application can be filed." 2008 WL 2645495.

In November 2008, Judge Lasnik rejected the defendant's motion to dismiss, finding that the court could not at that point of the litigation, find that the plaintiffs' various claims were incorrect. 2008 WL 4962685.

In March 2009, Judge Lasnik held that the regulation did not appropriately implement the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), and was therefore unlawful. 2009 WL 799683. On appeal, the 9th Circuit reversed, finding the regulation permissible under the INA, and remanded to the district court to consider plaintiffs' remaining contentions. Ruiz-Diaz v. United States, 618 F.3d 1055 (9th Cir. 2010).

On remand, the District Court, Robert S. Lasnik, held for the government in all respects. In particular: a) the visa provisions of the U.S. immigration code serve a compelling government interest and do not substantially burden Plaintiffs exercise of their religion (satisfying RFRA) by imposing limitations on the grant of visas; b) fraud in the religious worker visa program is endemic, and "the bar on concurrent filings is a rational regulatory attempt to reduce fraud in the religious worker program. Given the government's legitimate interest in reducing fraud and the broad deference courts show the determinations of the political branches in the context of immigration, the bar on concurrent filings," which singles out religious workers for extra scrutiny, "withstands scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause,"; c) Plaintiffs have "no legitimate entitlement to apply for adjustment of status before obtaining CIS approval of the I-360 visa petition." No process for visa applications is constitutionally mandated, or even statutorily required. Therefore, Plaintiffs' due process claims fail as a matter of law; and d) the threshold for a First Amendment violation is higher than for a RFRA violation, and that claim fails for same reasons as the RFRA violation claim. For those reasons, the Court denied Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and granted Defendants'. 819 F.Supp.2d 1154

Plaintiffs filed their notice of appeal in July of 2011. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Mary M. Schroeder, affirmed for the same reasons. 697 F.3d 1119 (amended 703 F.3d 483). The Court's mandate was issued November 28, 2011, and the district court docket ends there.

Dan Dalton - 12/05/2007
Carlos Torres - 06/30/2013


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Immigration
Family
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Bivens
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.
Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Defendant(s) Department of Homeland Security
Department of Justice
US Citizenship and Immigration Services
Plaintiff Description Individuals and their derivative family members, who are in the U.S., who are beneficiaries of an I-360 Petition, and who would be eligible to apply for adjustment of status, but are not allowed to file concurrent I-485 adjustment applications.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2012
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)
2:07-cv-01881-RSL (W.D. Wash.) 11/28/2012
IM-WA-0016-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Religious Worker Class Action Intake Form
IM-WA-0016-0008.pdf | Detail
Complaint - Class Action 11/21/2007
IM-WA-0016-0001.pdf | Detail
Press Release - Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over USCIS Refusal To Accept Concurrent Filings Of Adjustment Of Status Applications For Religious Workers 11/27/2007
IM-WA-0016-0002.pdf | Detail
Temporary Restraining Order 12/27/2007 (2007 WL 4593876) (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0016-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting in Part Plaintiffs' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction 05/01/2008 (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0016-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Motion for Class Certification 05/01/2008 (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0016-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint 05/15/2008
IM-WA-0016-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Second Motion for Class Certification 06/30/2008 (2008 WL 2645495) (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0016-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting In Part Plaintiffs' Second Motion for a Preliminary Injunction 08/21/2008 (2008 WL 3928016) (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0016-0019.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Defendants' Second Motion to Dismiss 10/31/2008 (2008 WL 4810304) (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0016-0021.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Order Denying Defendants' Second Motion to Dismiss 11/18/2008 (2008 WL 4962685) (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0016-0020.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment 03/23/2009 (2009 WL 799683) (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0016-0012.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Directing Entry of Judgment 06/11/2009 (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0016-0014.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment in a Civil Case 06/15/2009 (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0016-0015.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Notice re Compliance with the June 11, 2009 Order 06/26/2009
IM-WA-0016-0016.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 06/06/2010
IM-WA-0016-0017.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion 08/20/2010 (618 F.3d 1055)
IM-WA-0016-0018.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order Granting Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment 05/10/2011 (819 F.Supp.2d 1154) (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0016-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion 10/05/2012 (697 F.3d 1119)
IM-WA-0016-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Amended Opinion 11/26/2012 (703 F.3d 483)
IM-WA-0016-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Lasnik, Robert S. (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0016-0003 | IM-WA-0016-0004 | IM-WA-0016-0007 | IM-WA-0016-0011 | IM-WA-0016-0012 | IM-WA-0016-0013 | IM-WA-0016-0014 | IM-WA-0016-0019 | IM-WA-0016-0020 | IM-WA-0016-0021 | IM-WA-0016-9000
Rymer, Pamela Ann (C.D. Cal., Ninth Circuit)
IM-WA-0016-0018
Schroeder, Mary Murphy (Ninth Circuit)
IM-WA-0016-0009 | IM-WA-0016-0010
Walter, Donald Ellsworth (W.D. La.)
IM-WA-0016-0017
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Gibbs, Robert H. (Washington)
IM-WA-0016-0001 | IM-WA-0016-0002 | IM-WA-0016-0006 | IM-WA-0016-0008 | IM-WA-0016-9000
Matsumoto, Mari Lise (Washington)
IM-WA-0016-0001 | IM-WA-0016-0006 | IM-WA-0016-9000
Pauw, Robert (Washington)
IM-WA-0016-0001 | IM-WA-0016-0002 | IM-WA-0016-0006 | IM-WA-0016-0008 | IM-WA-0016-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Braunstein, Joshua E. (District of Columbia)
IM-WA-0016-0016
Diaz, J. Michael (Washington)
IM-WA-0016-9000
Jentzer, Lyle David (District of Columbia)
IM-WA-0016-9000
Kline, David J. (District of Columbia)
IM-WA-0016-0016
Leibman, Melissa S. (District of Columbia)
IM-WA-0016-0016 | IM-WA-0016-9000
Roberts, Darwin P (Washington)
IM-WA-0016-9000
West, Tony (District of Columbia)
IM-WA-0016-0016
Other Lawyers None on record

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