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Case Name Afghan and Iraqi Allies v. Pompeo IM-DC-0051
Docket / Court 1:18-cv-01388-TSC ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Attorney Organization International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)
Case Summary
After allegedly long delays in the processing of their Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applications, a group of Afghans and Iraqis who worked for the U.S. government to support U.S. missions in their home countries filed this class action challenge against the Departments of State (DOS) and Homeland ... read more >
After allegedly long delays in the processing of their Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applications, a group of Afghans and Iraqis who worked for the U.S. government to support U.S. missions in their home countries filed this class action challenge against the Departments of State (DOS) and Homeland Security (DHS). The plaintiffs, represented by the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and the law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, filed this lawsuit on June 12, 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Seeking declaratory and mandamus relief, they alleged that the ongoing delays in the processing of their SIV applications violated the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2007 (RCIA), the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009 (AAPA), and the Administrative Procedure Act. Before filing their complaint, Judge Beryl A. Howell granted the plaintiff’s motion for leave to file their complaint under pseudonyms, noting that disclosure of the plaintiff’s names would put their safety and well-being in serious jeopardy and also have minimal public benefit. Along with their complaint, the plaintiffs requested class certification, proposing a class of:

All people who have applied for an Afghan or Iraqi SIV pursuant to the [AAPA] and [RCIA] by submitting an application for COM (Chief of Mission, i.e. the principal officer in charge of the diplomatic missions in Afghanistan and Iraq) approval and whose applications have been in government-controlled steps for longer than nine months.

As the U.S. military and diplomatic missions in Iraq and Afghanistan wore on and Iraqis and Afghans who supported the U.S. government found their safety increasingly threatened, Congress had enacted the SIV program in 2008 (for Iraqis) and 2009 (for Afghans) in order to allow them to legally migrate to the United States. In 2013, Congress amended the SIV laws to mandate that the processing of SIV applications be completed within nine months to remedy the severe backlog. According to the plaintiffs, the backlogs persisted. By 2015, DOS and DHS faced at least two lawsuits from separate groups of SIV applicants seeking to have the deadline enforced; after a court rejected its motion to dismiss in one of the cases, the government agreed to adjudicate the SIV applications promptly for both groups of plaintiffs. Nine Iraqi Allies Under Serious Threat Because of Their Faithful Service to the United States v. Kerry, 168 F.Supp.3d 268 (D.D.C. 2016); Doe v. U.S. Dep’t of State, 2015 WL 9647660 (D.D.C.).

The plaintiffs in this case alleged that their claims were identical to those in the 2015 cases, the only difference being that they sought relief for the whole class of SIV applicants experiencing delays, as opposed to just one subset.

The government filed a memorandum in opposition to the plaintiffs’ class certification motion on July 26, 2018, arguing that the proposed class was overbroad because it would encompass some individuals who would never be in a position to apply for an actual visa. The government also filed a motion to dismiss on August 13, 2018. The government argued that the plaintiffs’ case should be dismissed because (1) the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue the government and (2) the plaintiffs failed to state claims because Congress’s nine-month deadline was not actually mandatory.

Meanwhile, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on September 7, 2018. They sought a declaration that the processing delays were unreasonable, an order that the government provide a plan to promptly process the applications, and an order that the government submit reports every 30 days to show their progress on their processing plan. At the time of this writing, the court had yet to adjudicate this motion.

The court denied the government’s motion to dismiss on January 30, 2019. The court held that the plaintiffs did have standing under the precedent of Nine Iraqi Allies Under Serious Threat. Moreover, even though the nine-month deadline was not mandatory, it could be a benchmark to assess whether the delays were unreasonable. As of March 5, 2019, the case is ongoing.

Alexander Walling - 07/24/2018
Nathan Santoscoy - 03/05/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Terrorism/Post 9-11 issues
Wait lists
Immigration/Border
Admission - procedure
Visas - procedures
National Origin/Ethnicity
Arab/Afgani/Middle Eastern
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Mandamus, 28 U.S.C. § 1361
Defendant(s) Department of Homeland Security
Department of State
Plaintiff Description Afghan and Iraqi individuals who work or worked for the U.S. government to support the U.S. missions in their home countries and filed Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applications for admission to the U.S.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
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 2018
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)
Docket(s)
1:18-cv-1388 (D.D.C.)
IM-DC-0051-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/13/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 7] (D.D.C.)
IM-DC-0051-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/12/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
IRAP & Freshfields File Class Action Challenge to Egregious Processing Delays in Special Immigrant Visa Program for Afghan and Iraqi Allies
IM-DC-0051-0003.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 06/13/2018
Amended Class Action Complaint [ECF# 23]
IM-DC-0051-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/12/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 47] (2019 WL 367841) (D.D.C.)
IM-DC-0051-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 01/30/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Chutkan, Tanya Sue (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0051-0004 | IM-DC-0051-9000
Howell, Beryl Alaine (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0051-0002
Plaintiff's Lawyers Alagesan, Deepa (New York) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0051-0001 | IM-DC-0051-9000
Curwin, Rebecca (New York) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0051-0001 | IM-DC-0051-9000
Hirose, Mariko (New York) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0051-0001 | IM-DC-0051-9000
Leitner, Shannon M. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0051-0001 | IM-DC-0051-9000
Livshiz, David Y. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0051-0001 | IM-DC-0051-9000
Martin, Linda H. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0051-0001 | IM-DC-0051-9000
Wilson, Allison (New York) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0051-0001 | IM-DC-0051-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Carilli, Joseph F. Jr. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0051-9000
Martin, William M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0051-9000

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