On October 29, 2007, attorneys with the ACLU of Washington, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and private counsel filed a class action suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on behalf of lawful permanent residents of the United States whose naturalization applications had been pending for over two years with the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services ("CIS"), awaiting the results of a FBI "name check." Plaintiffs asserted that the unreasonable delays caused by the FBI "name check" process violated the Administration Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 701, et seq. Plaintiffs requested that the Court grant plaintiffs' naturalization applications pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1447(b), or in the alternative, compel the government to render decisions on them. Plaintiffs sought additional declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as class certification.
Plaintiffs proposed certification of a class consisting of all persons residing in the Western District of Washington who have submitted naturalization applications to CIS and whose naturalization applications are not adjudicated within 120 days of the date of their initial exam due to pendency of a "name check."
On April 25, 2008, the District Court (Judge Marsha J. Pechman) certified the proposed class. Roshandel v. Chertoff
, 554 F. Supp. 2d 1194 (W.D. Wash. 2008). The Court granted a joint motion by the parties to amend the class definition on June 3, clarifying the class's temporal and geographic scope. Roshandel v. Chertoff
, No. 2:07-cv-01739, 2008 WL 2275558 (W.D. Wash. June 3, 2008).
Meanwhile, on January 8, 2008, the defendants had filed a motion to dismiss or remand to CIS for adjudication. The Court (Judge Pechman) denied this motion on May 5, striking some aspects of the motion to dismiss as outside of the complaint, finding the others to be without merit, and finding the arguments for remand to be inapplicable in light of class certification and the addition of more named plaintiffs to the amended complaint. Roshandel v. Chertoff
, No. 2:07-cv-01739, 2008 WL 1969646, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90899 (W.D. Wash. May 5, 2008).
On May 29, 2008, the plaintiffs filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of the class members' right to a judicial determination of application for naturalization pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1447(b). The Court never ruled on the motion, however, as the parties came to a settlement on August 11. The agreement set out a timeline for adjudication of class members' applications and subsequent naturalization proceedings, and gave the Court continued jurisdiction to enforce its terms. It also required defendants to pay plaintiffs' counsel $185,000 in fees and costs.
The Court approved the settlement on August 25, 2008, and remanded to CIS to adjudicate the class members' claims. By November 20, 2008, all claims had been adjudicated, and thus the settlement agreement was terminated and the case was dismissed.Christopher Schad - 07/03/2012