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Case Name Grace v. Sessions IM-DC-0054
Docket / Court 1:18-cv-01853 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Special Collection Civil Rights Challenges to Trump Immigration Enforcement Orders
Take Care
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
This case is a response to the Attorney General's decision in Matter of A-B-, issued in June 2018, and updated guidelines for asylum officers the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a month later, instructing them to apply Matter of A-B-'s holding to credible fear screenings ... read more >
This case is a response to the Attorney General's decision in Matter of A-B-, issued in June 2018, and updated guidelines for asylum officers the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a month later, instructing them to apply Matter of A-B-'s holding to credible fear screenings.

On August 7, 2018, this suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by asylum applicants plaintiffs all ordered removed following the rejection of their asylum claims at the credible fear assessment stage. They alleged that the Attorney General's decision in Matter of A-B- articulated new, unlawful standards for adjudicating asylum claims relating to domestic and gang violence. The defendants were the Attorney General, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). The plaintiffs filed these claims under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), and the Refugee Act of 1980. Represented by the ACLU and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, the plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as attorneys' fees and costs. They claimed that the defendants unlawfully implemented this new screening standard for asylum seekers in expedited removal proceedings, effectively depriving all applicants of their right to pursue asylum. The case was assigned to Judge Emmet Sullivan.

The plaintiffs claimed that as a result of these new policies most credible fear claims connected to domestic or gang violence were categorically denied; applicants were required to show that their home government "condones or is completely helpless" to protect them from feared persecution (as opposed to the prior "unable or unwilling" standard). This placed a higher burden on individuals seeking asylum based on membership in a particular social group. Moreover, asylum adjudicators were instructed to ignore any federal court of appeals decisions that conflicted with these new credible fear policies.

On August 8, 2018, the plaintiffs filed for a preliminary injunction and an emergency motion for stay of removal because two of the plaintiffs were subject to imminent removal. At an emergency hearing on August 8, the defendants agreed that the two plaintiffs would not be removed prior to 11:59 pm on August 9. However, following a hearing on the motions on the morning of August 9, the court learned that the two plaintiffs had in fact been removed from detention and placed on a flight to El Salvador during the hearing. The Court issued an oral order requiring the defendants to return the two plaintiffs to the U.S. as soon as possible.

On August 9, 2018, the court also granted a temporary stay of removal for all the plaintiffs pending the Court's determination of whether it had jurisdiction to enter a stay of removal in the case.

On September 12 the defendants filed for summary judgment, claiming that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the plaintiffs' claims, and furthermore, that all of the plaintiffs' claims failed as a matter of law. The plaintiffs filed a cross motion for summary judgment on September 26, alleging that their claims were justiciable and that they were entitled to summary judgment on the merits.

The District Court heard arguments on the cross motions on November 19, 2018. As of November 29, the case was ongoing.

Sam Kulhanek - 11/29/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Federalism
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Immigration/Border
Asylum - criteria
Asylum - procedure
Constitutional rights
Convention against Torture
Deportation - criteria
Deportation - judicial review
Deportation - procedure
National Origin/Ethnicity
Hispanic
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.
Defendant(s) US Citizenship and Immigration Services
US Department of Homeland Security
US Department of Justice
US Executive Office for Immigration Review
Plaintiff Description A group of adults and children who sought and were denied asylum in the U.S. at the credible fear stage during expedited removal proceedings.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
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)
  Implementation of Executive Order 13768, "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States
The Washington Post
Date: May 22, 2017
By: Jefferson Sessions (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Re: Implementing the President's Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Policies (Final, 2/20/2017)
dhs.gov
Date: Feb. 20, 2017
By: DHS Secretary John Kelly (United States Department of Homeland Security)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Re: Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest (Final, 2/20/2017)
dhs.gov
Date: Feb. 20, 2017
By: DHS Secretary John Kelly (United States Department of Homeland Security)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Executive Order 13767: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements
Federal Register
Date: Jan. 27, 2017
By: President Donald Trump (Office of the President)
Citation: 82 Fed. Reg. Presidential Documents 8793 (Jan. 27, 2017)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

  Executive Order 13768: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States
Federal Register
Date: Jan. 25, 2017
By: President Donald Trump (Office of the President)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:18-cv-1853 (D.D.C.)
IM-DC-0054-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/21/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
IM-DC-0054-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/07/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 22] (2018 WL 3812445) (D.D.C.)
IM-DC-0054-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 08/09/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Sullivan, Emmet G. (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-0001 | IM-DC-0054-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Clancy, Thomas P. (California) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-0002 | IM-DC-0054-9000
Dutton, Anne Kathleen Scholten (California) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-0002 | IM-DC-0054-9000
Eiland, Katrina L. (California) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-0002 | IM-DC-0054-9000
Jadwat, Omar C. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-0002 | IM-DC-0054-9000
Lapidus, Lenora M. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-0002 | IM-DC-0054-9000
Lee, Eunice (California) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-0002 | IM-DC-0054-9000
Michelman, Scott (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-0002 | IM-DC-0054-9000
Musalo, Karen (California) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-0002 | IM-DC-0054-9000
Newell, Jennifer Chang (California) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-0002 | IM-DC-0054-9000
Park, Sandra S. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-0002 | IM-DC-0054-9000
Perez, Celso Javier (New York) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-0002 | IM-DC-0054-9000
Rabinovitz, Judy (New York) show/hide docs
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Roth, Emma Jane (New York) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-9000
Segura, Andre (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-0002 | IM-DC-0054-9000
Spitzer, Arthur (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-0002 | IM-DC-0054-9000
Wofsy, Cody H. (California) show/hide docs
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Defendant's Lawyers Darrow, Joseph A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-9000
Greer, Christina P. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-9000
Press, Joshua S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-9000
Reuveni, Erez (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-9000
Other Lawyers Ho, Derek Tam (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-9000
Litos, Stephanie E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-9000
Ragland, Thomas K. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-9000
Reyes, Ana C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-9000
Thompson, Paul Michael (Virginia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0054-9000

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