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Case Name L.M.-M. v. Cuccinelli IM-DC-0069
Docket / Court 1:19-cv-02676 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Immigration and/or the Border
Presidential/Gubernatorial Authority
Case Summary
On September 6, 2019, a legal services provider and seven individuals detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of ... read more >
On September 6, 2019, a legal services provider and seven individuals detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The individual plaintiffs, along with the Refugee & Immigrant Center for Education & Legal Services (RAICES), challenged new directives that the government issued at two detention centers in Texas, which effectively gave asylum seekers just twenty-four hours to prepare for their credible fear interviews (“the Directives”). Represented by Democracy Forward Foundation, RAICES, and Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), the plaintiffs alleged that the Directives violated the First Amendment, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Rehabilitation Act, the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, and the Appointments Clause. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, and the case was assigned to Judge Randolph D. Moss.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs argued that the combination of three new USCIS directives resulted in an unlawful infringement on the right to seek asylum in the U.S. Specifically, the Directives reduced the time given to asylum seekers to consult with third parties prior to their credible fear interviews, mandated that requests for extensions be denied absent the most extraordinary circumstances, and eliminated a legal orientation program for asylum seekers at the Dilley facility. The plaintiffs made the following legal claims in their complaint:
(1) that by impeding asylum seekers’ ability to consult with persons of their choosing and preventing them from fully and effectively participating in the credible fear interview process, the Directives violate IIRIRA;
(2) the Directives are arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of discretion under the APA as they were motivated by racial animus and the defendants failed to provide an adequate justification for changing policy;
(3) the Directives violate the APA because they were issued absent notice and comment; (4) the Directives violate the Rehabilitation Act, because they unlawfully discriminate against the individual plaintiffs (who have disabilities under the Act) by failing to provide them with a reasonable accommodation and/or excluding them from the asylum process altogether;
(5) the Directives violate the First Amendment because they unduly impede communication and association between the individual plaintiffs and their counsel, as well as between RAICES and its clients; and
(6) the Directives were issued in violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act and the Appointments Clause, because Mr. Cuccinelli’s service as Acting Director of USCIS is not in accordance with the Act, nor was he nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.
On September 27, 2019, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. The defendants filed the administrative record on October 21, and on January 9 the parties agreed to treat the plaintiffs’ motion as a motion for partial summary judgment. The defendants also filed a motion for partial summary judgment.

On March 1, 2020, the district court granted in part and denied in part the summary judgment motions of both the plaintiffs and defendants. 2020 WL 985376. First, Judge Moss concluded that the court only had jurisdiction over the plaintiffs’ challenges to the directives reducing consultation time and prohibiting extensions. Next, he found that Mr. Cuccinelli was not lawfully appointed to serve as Acting Director of USCIS, thereby requiring that those two directives be set aside. He also set aside the individual plaintiffs’ negative credible-fear determinations and removal orders and remanded to USCIS for further proceedings. Judge Moss did not reach the plaintiffs’ other legal challenges.

The case is ongoing.

Sam Kulhanek - 03/08/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Immigration/Border
Asylum - procedure
Constitutional rights
Detention - procedures
Immigration lawyers
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA)
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS)
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Plaintiff Description The Refugee & Immigrant Center for Education & Legal Services (RAICES) and seven individuals detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2020 - n/a
Filed 09/06/2019
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
1:19-cv-02676-RDM (D.D.C.)
IM-DC-0069-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/01/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
IM-DC-0069-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/06/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 34] (2020 WL 985376) (D.D.C.)
IM-DC-0069-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/01/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Moss, Randolph Daniel (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0069-0002 | IM-DC-0069-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Govindaiah, Manoj (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0069-0001 | IM-DC-0069-9000
Guzman, Javier M (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0069-0001
Jenkins, Bradley (Maryland) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0069-0001 | IM-DC-0069-9000
Lewis, John T. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0069-0001 | IM-DC-0069-9000
Seel, Benjamin (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0069-0001
Shah, Nitin (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0069-0001
Waldon, Samuel J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0069-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Burnham, James M (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0069-9000
Kurz, Julian (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0069-9000
Ramkumar, Archith (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0069-9000
Other Lawyers Lipper, Gregory M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0069-9000

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