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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. 2015 WL 3392733. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief and mandamus under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and accompanying regulations and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

Plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, the American Immigration Council, and NWIRP, sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its component 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 but 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 open clients' jobs while they waited for EAD adjudication. The individual plaintiffs sought to represent the 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. Next followed a series of sealed documents. Defendants filed several sealed motions, including an Aug. 10, 2015 motion to dismiss and opposition to plaintiffs' motion for class certification. On Feb. 10, 2016, Judge Robart filed a sealed order granting in part and denying in part defendants' motion to dismiss. He concluded that the federal court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over several of the plaintiffs and that the claim might have to be heard in state court if at all.

The plaintiffs filed a sealed amended complaint on Feb. 22, 2016 which included the five original plaintiffs with eight additional plaintiffs. They are immigrants who sought EADs on the basis of their U 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 defendants filed a sealed motion to dismiss on April 18, 2016.

On Sept. 7, 2016, Judge Robart held oral argument on the motion to dismiss and motion for class certification. On Oct. 5, 2016, he issued an order granting in part and denying in part defendants' motion to dismiss (by dismissing some plaintiffs on grounds of standing or failure to state a claim but allowing others to proceed), as well as denying without prejudice individual plaintiffs' motion for class certification, with leave to renew it to correct deficiencies. 325 F.R.D. 671 (W.D.Wash. 2016).

Plaintiffs filed a third motion for class certification on Nov. 4, 2016, proposing nationwide classes of individuals whose EAD applications had been delayed 30 days (for asylum applicants) or 90 days (for others). Defendants moved to dismiss in part on Mar. 2, 2017. Judge Robart held oral argument on July 13, 2017.

On July 18, 2017, Judge Robart issued an order granting in part and denying in part the 30-day plaintiff class's motion for class certification, but also granting defendants' motion to dismiss to 90-day plaintiff class and subclass's claims (because revised regulations now required defendants 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 Oct. 17, 2017, Judge Robart set a briefing and discovery schedule. Discovery was scheduled to be completed by April 2, 2018.

On Oct. 20, 2017, the government moved to supplement the administrative record with materials describing the EAD adjudication and asylum application procedures. On Nov. 22, 2017, the plaintiffs moved to supplement the record with a memo about EAD adjudication for unaccompanied immigrant children and other previously submitted documentation to corroborate the harm applicants incurred due to the defendants' delayed EAD adjudication.

On April 17, 2018, Judge Robart granted in part and denied in part each of the parties' motions to supplement the record. 2018 WL 1811352. He declined to add plaintiffs' documents previously submitted but allowed the memo. He allowed all of the government's requested documents with the exception of an affidavit from a USCIS Associate Director of Service Center Operations. He found that a significant portion of it was irrelevant because it expounded on differences in EAD adjudication times for affirmative and defensive asylum applicants, though the class definition does not distinguish between these groups.

On May 17, 2018, the plaintiffs and defendants filed cross motions for summary judgment. On July 2, 2018, they each responded to the other's motion and then replied to the respective responses. All six of these filings are not publicly available.

On July 26, 2018, Judge Robart granted the plaintiff's summary judgment motion and denied the defendant's cross summary judgment motion. While the judge's written decision is not publicly available, the docket indicates that he ordered the government to submit status reports on their compliance with his order every 30 days. On August 27, 2018, the parties filed a sealed, joint implementation plan of the judge's order.

On Sep. 27, 2018, the government appealed the summary judgment order to the Ninth Circuit. That day, a briefing schedule was set for the government to file their opening brief by November 20, 2018 and for the plaintiffs to respond by December 20, 2018. The government was also ordered to file a mediation questionnaire by October 4, 2018.

In the meantime, the case continued 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 judge'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 November 15, 2018, Judge Robart ordered the parties to submit response briefs.

This case is ongoing at the district court and the Ninth Circuit.

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


compress summary

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Government Services (specify)
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Record-keeping
Timeliness of case assignment
Wait lists
Immigration/Border
Asylum - procedure
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 None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 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: 01/03/2019
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]
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-0025-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers 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 | 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
Defendant's Lawyers Defoe, Craig Andrew (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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