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Case Name Rosario [formerly Northwest Immigrant Rights Project] v. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services IM-WA-0025
Docket / Court 2:15-cv-00813-JLR ( W.D. Wash. )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Attorney Organization American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP)
Case Summary
On May 22, 2015, non-citizen applicants for employment authorization documents (EADs) and two legal service organizations who assist immigrants and asylum seekers with these applications, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) and Advocates for Human Rights, filed this class action lawsuit ... read more >
On May 22, 2015, non-citizen applicants for employment authorization documents (EADs) and two legal service organizations who assist immigrants and asylum seekers with these applications, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) and Advocates for Human Rights, filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief and a writ of mandamus under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), its accompanying regulations, and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, the American Immigration Council, and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its component agency U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for their policies and practices of unlawfully delaying adjudication of EAD applications and refusing to issue required interim EADs. The individual plaintiffs were all eligible for EADs and would be eligible to work with appropriate documentation, were it not for the government’s unlawful delay in adjudicating their applications. As a result, they had lost drivers’ licenses and experienced financial hardship, including inability to pay for utilities and medically necessary care. The organizational plaintiffs claimed that they had to divert limited resources to try to remedy these delays by contacting USCIS and Congresspeople, as well as employers, to try to keep clients’ jobs open while they waited for EAD adjudication. The individual plaintiffs sought to represent a nationwide class of non-citizens who had filed or would file an EAD application that was not or would not be adjudicated within the required regulatory time frame.

The case was assigned to Judge James L. Robart. The government filed a series of sealed motions, including an August 10, 2015 motion to dismiss. On February 10, 2016, the court issued a sealed order granting in part and denying in part the government’s motion to dismiss. It ruled that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over several of the plaintiffs, and that the claim would have to be heard in state court if at all.

The plaintiffs filed a sealed amended complaint on February 22, 2016 which included the five original plaintiffs and eight additional plaintiffs. They included:
  • immigrants who sought EADs on the basis of their “U Nonimmigrant” status as crime victims who cooperated with law enforcement;
  • F-1 student visa holders seeking temporary work after the completion of their university programs;
  • asylum applicants seeking initial and renewal applications while their asylum matters remained pending; and
  • recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) seeking renewal.
The plaintiffs filed a second motion for class certification on March 22, 2016; the government filed a sealed motion to dismiss on April 18, 2016.

Oral arguments on these motions were heard on September 7, 2016. On October 5 the court issued an order dismissing some plaintiffs for lack of standing or for failure to state a claim, but allowing others to proceed, and denying without prejudice the individual plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, with leave to amend. 325 F.R.D. 671.

The plaintiffs filed a third motion for class certification on November 4, 2016, proposing nationwide classes of individuals whose EAD applications had been delayed 30 days (for asylum applicants) or 90 days (for others). The government moved to dismiss in part on March 2, 2017, and oral arguments took place on July 13.

On July 18, 2017, the court issued an order granting in part and denying in part the 30-day plaintiff class’s motion for class certification, but also granting the government’s motion to dismiss as to 90-day plaintiff class and subclass’s claims (because revised regulations now required the government to take action). The certified 30-day class was defined as “[n]oncitizens who have filed or will file applications for employment authorization that were not or will not be adjudicated within…30 days…and who have not or will not be granted interim employment authorization.” The order also dismissed the organizational plaintiffs. 2017 WL 3034447.

On October 17, 2017, the court set a briefing and discovery schedule. Discovery was scheduled to be completed by April 2, 2018.

On July 26, 2018, the court granted the plaintiffs’ summary judgment motion and denied the government’s cross motion for summary judgment. While the court’s written decision is not publicly available, the docket indicates that it ordered the government to submit status reports on their compliance with its order every 30 days. On August 27, 2018, the parties filed a sealed, joint implementation plan of the court’s order.

On September 27, 2018, the government appealed the summary judgment order to the Ninth Circuit.

In the district court on October 10, 2018, the parties submitted briefing regarding whether the court should specify specific rates for EAD adjudication compliance as part of an implementation order of the court’s July 26, 2018 decision. They also made proposals regarding the appropriate venue for filing any federal district court action where an EAD application was not adjudicated in compliance with the court’s order.

On March 20, 2019, the district court issued an order declining to require the government to comply with the injunction by a specific date. It also declined to require individuals to file EAD applications with the court before compelling the government to adjudicate the applications. 2019 WL 1275097

The government dismissed its Ninth Circuit appeal on May 5, 2020; on July 28, it asked the district court to vacate the injunction, due to a “material change in the law.” That motion is pending as of August 7, 2020.

Frances Hollander - 11/01/2015
Ava Morgenstern - 01/28/2018
Veronica Portillo Heap - 11/21/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Reporting
Required disclosure
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Timeliness of case assignment
Wait lists
Immigration/Border
Employment
Status/Classification
Work authorization - procedures
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.
Mandamus, 28 U.S.C. § 1361
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of Homeland Security
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
Plaintiff Description Noncitizens whose employment authorization requests were unlawfully delayed, and nonprofit legal services organizations that serve low-income immigrants.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 05/22/2015
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Judge Certifies Nationwide Class in Employment Authorization Case (NWIRP v. USCIS)
www.lexisnexis.com
Date: Jul. 19, 2017
By: Daniel M. Kowalski (LexisNexis)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  USCIS Takes Too Long To Review Work Docs, Immigrants Say
www.law360.com
Date: May 26, 2015
By: Kevin Penton (Law360)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
18-35806 (U.S. Court of Appeals)
IM-WA-0025-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/13/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
2:15-cv-813 (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0025-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/28/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
IM-WA-0025-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/22/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 80] (2016 WL 5817078 / 2016 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 138603) (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0025-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/05/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 95] (2017 WL 3034447 / 2017 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 111761) (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0025-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/18/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order on Cross-Motion to Supplement the Administrative Record [ECF# 113] (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0025-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/17/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 145] (2019 WL 1275097) (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0025-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/20/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Robart, James L. (W.D. Wash.) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0025-0002 | IM-WA-0025-0003 | IM-WA-0025-0004 | IM-WA-0025-0005 | IM-WA-0025-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Adams, Matthew (Washington) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0025-9000
Crow, Melissa E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0025-0001 | IM-WA-0025-9000
Dellon, Leslie K (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0025-9000
Gibbs, Robert H. (Washington) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0025-0001 | IM-WA-0025-9000
Murdoch, Christina J. (Illinois) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0025-9000
Pauw, Robert (Washington) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0025-0001 | IM-WA-0025-9000
Pollock, Scott D (Illinois) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0025-0001 | IM-WA-0025-9000
Realmuto, Trina (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0025-9000
Realmuto, Trina (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0025-9000 | IM-WA-0025-9001
Strawn, Christopher (Washington) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0025-0001 | IM-WA-0025-9000 | IM-WA-0025-9001
Theriot-Orr, Devin T. (Washington) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0025-0001 | IM-WA-0025-9000 | IM-WA-0025-9001
Van Der Hout, Marc (California) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0025-0001 | IM-WA-0025-9000 | IM-WA-0025-9001
Weber, Kathryn R (Illinois) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0025-9000
Winger, Emma Curtis (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0025-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Defoe, Craig Andrew (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0025-9000
Goldsmith, Aaron S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0025-9000
Inkeles, John Joseph William (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0025-9000
Maloney, Sarah (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0025-9000
Robins, Jeffrey S (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0025-9000 | IM-WA-0025-9001
Zack, Adrienne (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0025-9000

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