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Case Name A.B.T. v. USCIS IM-WA-0019
Docket / Court 2:11-cv-02108-RAJ ( W.D. Wash. )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Immigration
Case Summary
On December 15, 2011, asylum applicants denied work authorization by the government filed a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington that challenged the practices of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Executive Office ... read more >
On December 15, 2011, asylum applicants denied work authorization by the government filed a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington that challenged the practices of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) in calculating the waiting period in removal proceedings. Plaintiffs alleged that the government's practices violated the U.S. Constitution, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the governing regulations, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

On July 20, 2012, the court (Judge Richard A. Jones) granted plaintiffs' motion for a protective order to permit them and require defendants to use the initials of the plaintiffs' first and last names in all filings so plaintiffs' identities remain confidential. A.B.T. v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs., No. 2:11-CV-02108 RAJ, 2012 WL 2995064 (W.D. Wash. July 20, 2012). The court also granted the parties' stipulated motion to stay proceedings to pursue mediation.

Extended settlement discussions ensued, and in April 2013, the parties signed a comprehensive settlement agreement that included a stipulation to class certification. In addition, the parties agreed to a proposed Notice to Class Members that would explain the terms of the settlement agreement. On May 7, 2013, the court preliminarily approved the parties' settlement agreement and set a fairness hearing. On September 20, 2013, the court held a fairness hearing where it tentatively approved the settlement, pending a revised notice to the class. On September 27, 2013, the court approved the revised notice, and on November 4, 2013, the court approved a revised settlement. (The court also granted defendants' motion for an extension of the implementation date due to the government shutdown.)

Under the settlement:
  • An applicant will be able to "lodge" an asylum application with an immigration court clerk at a time other than a hearing. The "lodged" date will start the asylum EAD clock. (The asylum application will still need to be "filed" in a hearing before an IJ.)
  • Immigration Judges must offer each non-detained asylum applicant whose case is on the expedited docket a hearing date that is at least 45 days out. If the applicant accepts that hearing date, the asylum EAD clock will continue to run during the period before the hearing.
  • If the IJ has denied an application, but the Board of Immigration Appeals remands a case to the IJ for reconsideration, the asylum clock will restart on the date of the remand, and will be credited with the number of days that the case was pending on appeal since the IJ denial.
  • Instead of definitively stopping the clock when an applicant misses a meeting, USCIS will mail a letter to asylum applicants who miss an asylum interview informing them of how missing an interview affects work authorization eligibility, and giving them 45 days to show good cause for having missed the interview.
  • When there is a preliminary hearing, the Immigration Court will provide written notice to asylum seekers and their counsel about the asylum clock, including the impact of the different hearing adjournment codes on employment authorization. IJs will be instructed to state clearly on the record the reason for adjournment. USCIS will consider ways to make its letters denying EAD applications clearer and will make changes to these letters.

    Jennifer Bronson - 10/24/2013


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    Issues and Causes of Action
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    Issues
    Constitutional Clause
    Due Process
    Immigration
    Asylum - procedure
    Work authorization - procedures
    Plaintiff Type
    Private Plaintiff
    Causes of Action Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.
    Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
    Defendant(s) Executive Office for Immigration Review
    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs were asylum applicants in removal proceedings who have applied for, but have not been granted, work authorization
    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 not on record
    Case Closing Year n/a
    Case Ongoing Yes
    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)
    2:11-cv-2108 (W.D. Wash.) 06/07/2013
    IM-WA-0019-9000.pdf | Detail
    PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
    General Documents
    Frequently Asked Questions About the Asylum Clock Class Action Settlements
    IM-WA-0019-0001.pdf | Detail
    Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief - Class Action 12/15/2011
    IM-WA-0019-0002.pdf | Detail
    Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
    First Amended Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief - Class Action 06/05/2012
    IM-WA-0019-0003.pdf | Detail
    Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
    Order Granting Plaintiff's Motion for a Protective Order 07/20/2012 (2012 WL 2995064) (W.D. Wash.)
    IM-WA-0019-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
    Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
    Settlement Agreement 05/06/2013
    IM-WA-0019-0005.pdf | Detail
    Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
    Order 05/08/2013 (W.D. Wash.)
    IM-WA-0019-0004.pdf | Detail
    Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
    Order 11/04/2013 (2013 WL 5913323) (W.D. Wash.)
    IM-WA-0019-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
    Document Source: Westlaw
    Order Approving Class Action Settlement 11/04/2013 (W.D. Wash.)
    IM-WA-0019-0008.pdf | Detail
    Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
    Judges Jones, Richard A. (W.D. Wash.)
    IM-WA-0019-0004 | IM-WA-0019-0006 | IM-WA-0019-0007 | IM-WA-0019-0008 | IM-WA-0019-9000
    Monitors/Masters None on record
    Plaintiff's Lawyers Adams, Matthew (Washington)
    IM-WA-0019-0002 | IM-WA-0019-0003 | IM-WA-0019-0005 | IM-WA-0019-9000
    Creighton, Emily J. (District of Columbia)
    IM-WA-0019-0002 | IM-WA-0019-0003 | IM-WA-0019-0005 | IM-WA-0019-9000
    Crow, Melissa E. (District of Columbia)
    IM-WA-0019-0002 | IM-WA-0019-0003 | IM-WA-0019-0005 | IM-WA-0019-9000
    Gibbs, Robert H. (Washington)
    IM-WA-0019-0002 | IM-WA-0019-0003 | IM-WA-0019-0005 | IM-WA-0019-9000
    Gomez, Iris (Massachusetts)
    IM-WA-0019-0002 | IM-WA-0019-0003 | IM-WA-0019-0005 | IM-WA-0019-9000
    Kenney, Mary (District of Columbia)
    IM-WA-0019-0002 | IM-WA-0019-0003 | IM-WA-0019-0005 | IM-WA-0019-9000
    Pauw, Robert (Washington)
    IM-WA-0019-0002 | IM-WA-0019-0003 | IM-WA-0019-0005 | IM-WA-0019-9000
    Strawn, Christopher (Washington)
    IM-WA-0019-0002 | IM-WA-0019-0003 | IM-WA-0019-0005 | IM-WA-0019-9000
    Theriot-Orr, Devin T. (Washington)
    IM-WA-0019-9000
    Defendant's Lawyers Chan, Priscilla To-Yin (Washington)
    IM-WA-0019-0005 | IM-WA-0019-9000
    Delery, Stuart F. (District of Columbia)
    IM-WA-0019-0005
    Durkan, Jenny A (Washington)
    IM-WA-0019-0005
    Kisor, Colin A. (District of Columbia)
    IM-WA-0019-0005
    Kline, David J. (District of Columbia)
    IM-WA-0019-0005
    Weintraub, J. Max (District of Columbia)
    IM-WA-0019-0005 | IM-WA-0019-9000
    Other Lawyers None on record

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