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Case Name City of Seattle v. Department of Homeland Security IM-CA-0151
Docket / Court 3:19-cv-07151 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Attorney Organization Asian Americans Advancing Justice / AAJC
Case Summary
On October 29, 2019, the City of Seattle and several nonprofit organizations filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District for the Northern District of California, challenging new fee waiver policies issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The City--along with the Immigrant Legal ... read more >
On October 29, 2019, the City of Seattle and several nonprofit organizations filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District for the Northern District of California, challenging new fee waiver policies issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The City--along with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., Self-Help For The Elderly, OneAmerica, and Central American Resource Center of California--sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and USCIS under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Represented by private counsel, Protect Democracy, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, the plaintiffs alleged that the new policies, which make it much harder for naturalization applicants to qualify for fee waivers, violate the APA and federal law. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as attorneys fees and costs. The case was assigned to Judge Maxine M. Chesney.

Under rules in place since 2010, applicants for naturalization are able to obtain fee waivers for the $725 processing fee under certain circumstances. On October 24, 2019, USCIS announced changes to the fee waiver process (“the 2019 Rule”). Under the 2019 Rule, applicants could no longer obtain a fee waiver based upon receipt of a means-tested benefit; applicants must secure a tax transcript from the Internal Revenue Service to prove their income (whereas before they only needed to submit copies of tax returns); and applicants are no longer able to use applicant-generated written requests for fee waivers. The plaintiffs argued that the 2019 Rule would block many low-income lawful permanent residents from applying for naturalization. The plaintiffs alleged that the Rule is arbitrary and capricious, that USCIS violated the APA by issuing the Rule absent notice-and-comment procedures, and that the elimination of applicant-generated requests violates 8 C.F.R. § 103.7(c)(2), which does not require individuals to use a form to submit a fee waiver request.

The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on November 6, 2019. The new complaint added claims related to the appointment of Defendant Kenneth Cuccinelli as the Acting Director of USCIS. First, the plaintiffs alleged that Cuccinelli’s appointment violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. Second, they argued that because of Cuccinelli’s unlawful appointment, the 2019 Rule violated the APA because it was not issued in accordance with law.

On November 6, 2019, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. Judge Chesney heard arguments on December 9, 2019. Finding that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their APA claims, the Court issued a nationwide injunction of the 2019 Rule on December 11.

The case is ongoing.

Sam Kulhanek - 02/06/2020


compress summary

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Immigration/Border
U.S. citizenship - acquiring
Visas - procedures
Plaintiff Type
City/County Plaintiff
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Non-profit religious organization
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Defendant(s) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Plaintiff Description The City of Seattle, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., Self-Help For The Elderly, OneAmerica, and Central American Resource Center of California.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Asian Americans Advancing Justice / AAJC
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 10/29/2019
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)
3:19-cv-7151 (N.D. Cal.)
IM-CA-0151-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/07/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
IM-CA-0151-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/29/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint [ECF# 24]
IM-CA-0151-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/06/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Nationwide Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 65] (N.D. Cal.)
IM-CA-0151-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/11/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Chesney, Maxine M. (N.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0151-0003 | IM-CA-0151-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Benkato, Jamila Goldkamp (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0151-0001 | IM-CA-0151-0002 | IM-CA-0151-9000
Berwick, Benjamin Leon (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0151-9000
Etcubanez, Marita (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0151-0001 | IM-CA-0151-0002
Franklin, Erica Ruth (Washington) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0151-0001 | IM-CA-0151-0002 | IM-CA-0151-9000
Goldman, Lauren R (New York) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0151-0001 | IM-CA-0151-0002 | IM-CA-0151-9000
Goodman, Rachel E.. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0151-9000
Holmes, Peter S. (Washington) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0151-0001 | IM-CA-0151-0002
Ingber, Matthew D (New York) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0151-0001 | IM-CA-0151-0002 | IM-CA-0151-9000
Marsden, Jessica Ann (North Carolina) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0151-0001 | IM-CA-0151-0002 | IM-CA-0151-9000
McDevitt, Maura K. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0151-0002 | IM-CA-0151-9000
Mitchell, Luc W. M. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0151-0001 | IM-CA-0151-0002 | IM-CA-0151-9000
Patel, Niketa K. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0151-0001 | IM-CA-0151-0002 | IM-CA-0151-9000
Rodriguez, Nicolas E. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0151-0001 | IM-CA-0151-0002 | IM-CA-0151-9000
Rubin, Lee H (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0151-0001 | IM-CA-0151-0002 | IM-CA-0151-9000
Shah, Niyati (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0151-0001 | IM-CA-0151-0002 | IM-CA-0151-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Harris, Julie Straus (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0151-9000
Roberts, Charles E.T. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0151-9000
Other Lawyers Gaw, Randolph (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0151-9000

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