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Case Name Nine Iraqi Allies Under Serious Threat Because of Their Faithful Service to the United States v. Kerry IM-DC-0075
Docket / Court 1:15-cv-00300 ( 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
On February 27, 2015, following long delays in the processing of their Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applications, nine Afghans and Iraqis under threat in their home countries for supporting U.S. operations filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The ... read more >
On February 27, 2015, following long delays in the processing of their Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applications, nine Afghans and Iraqis under threat in their home countries for supporting U.S. operations filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs, represented by the International Refugee Assistance Program (IRAP), sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Department of State (DOS). Congress passed the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2007 (RCIA) and the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009 (AAPA), making Iraqis and Afghans under threat because of their service to the United States eligible for SIVs and directing such applications to be completed within nine months. Seeking injunctive and mandamus relief, plaintiffs alleged that defendants failed to make reasonable efforts to protect the plaintiffs and diligently process the plaintiffs' SIV applications, contrary to Congress's direction and in violation of the RCIA and AAPA. The case was assigned to Judge Gladys Kessler.

Plaintiffs, who were granted leave to proceed by pseudonym because of the risk of reprisal they faced, asserted that they were trapped in Iraq or Afghanistan while waiting for the U.S. government to process their applications. Delays in the processing of their applications ranged from one-and-a-half to over six years. Plaintiffs described multiple assassination attempts and a steady barrage of death threats, including from ISIS and the Taliban. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants' "failure to provide timely adjudication of their applications has exposed them and their families to serious, imminent threats to their life and well-being as a result of their service to the United States." 2015 WL 1245035.

On September 1, 2015, defendants filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. Defendants asserted that the plaintiffs lacked standing and failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted because plaintiffs had received final refusals of their applications. Defendants further argued that they "enjoyed unlimited discretion over SIV processing and that the court could not enforce Congress’s instruction to process SIVs within nine months."

On January 28, 2016, following extensive briefing from the parties, Judge Kessler issued an order granting in part and denying in part defendants' motion to dismiss. First, Judge Kessler concluded that the plaintiffs had standing; "Plaintiffs have been injured by the failure to obtain final decisions on their SIV applications, that injury is caused by the Government's failure to act, and the injury would be redressed by an order from this Court." Next, Judge Kessler found that, in contrast to defendants' assertions, seven of the plaintiffs' applications were in process and had not received final refusal. Judge Kessler further concluded that “adjudication of Plaintiffs’ SIV applications within a reasonable time is non-discretionary” and that “judicially manageable standards exist to measure the Government’s performance of its duty.” Finally, Judge Kessler denied defendants' argument that plaintiffs failed to properly state a claim, finding that "Plaintiffs have properly stated their claims under the APA . . . and the Mandamus Act." 168 F. Supp. 3d. 268 (D.D.C. Jan. 28, 2016).

However, Judge Kessler granted defendants' motion to dismiss with regard claims that defendants failed to provide plaintiffs protection from imminent threats. Judge Kessler found that the RCIA and APAA provided significant discretion to defendants to carry out this protection and that there were no. standards to enforce the statutory command.

On March 21, 2016, the parties entered into a consent order, agreeing to suspend the suit for 90 days, during which the government was to process the plaintiffs' SIV applications. According to an IRAP press release, "all plaintiffs received a decision within 3 months pursuant to the agreement and thirteen of them and their families now live safely in the United States."

The case is now closed.

Aaron Gurley - 05/24/2020

compress summary

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Visas - procedures
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) U.S. Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Statte
Plaintiff Description Iraqi and Afghan citizens who supported U.S. military operations in their home countries
Indexed Lawyer Organizations International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2016 - 2016
Filed 02/27/2015
Case Closing Year 2016
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Court Docket(s)
IM-DC-0075-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 52]
IM-DC-0075-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
not recorded
Press Release: U.S. Government Agrees to Act on Cases of Iraqi and Afghan Allies Suing Over Failure to Act on Visa Applications
IM-DC-0075-0001.pdf | Detail
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Judges Kessler, Gladys (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0075-0002 | IM-DC-0075-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Doyle, Bonnie (New York) show/hide docs
Heller, Rebecca (New York) show/hide docs
Lacovara, Michael (New York) show/hide docs
Ramos-Mrosovsky, Carlos (New York) show/hide docs
Stucko, Christoper (New York) show/hide docs
Warren, John K. (Virginia) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Fishman, Dillon (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Kelly, Wynne Patrick (District of Columbia) show/hide docs

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