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Case Name Zambrano v. INS IM-CA-0008
Docket / Court S-88-455 EJG ( E.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
On April 12, 1988, six undocumented aliens filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, challenging regulations issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS"), which implemented the legalization provisions of the Immigration Reform ... read more >
On April 12, 1988, six undocumented aliens filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, challenging regulations issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS"), which implemented the legalization provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). This case was one of three "late amnesty cases" filed in the federal courts in California against the INS. The other two cases were Catholic Social Services v. Meese, 2:86-cv-01343-LKK-JFM (E.D.Cal.)[IM-CA-11 of this collection] and LULAC v. INS, 2:87-cv-04757-WDK-CW (C.D.Cal.) [IM-CA-19].

The IRCA established a one-time only amnesty program through which aliens could apply for lawful temporary resident status and then, after a one-year waiting period, apply for permanent residency. 8 U.S.C. §1255a. In order to be eligible for amnesty under the program, an alien must have satisfied four requirements: 1) a timely application; 2) unlawful residence in the United States since 1982; 3) continuous presence in the United States since the IRCA's enactment; and 4) admissibility as an immigrant. An alien satisfied the 4th requirement, as long as he/she did not fall into one of the statutory exclusions. The Zambrano plaintiffs challenged two regulations issued by the INS which dealt with one such exclusion - the "public charge exclusion," which excluded aliens who would likely be financially dependent on the government. The regulations at issue concerned "proof of financial responsibility," 8 C.F.R. § 245a.2(d)(4) and "public cash assistance," 8 C.F.R. § 245a.1(i)(1988), which applied to how the public charge exclusion was determined.

Attorneys with the San Mateo County Legal Aid Society, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Protection and Advocacy Inc. and private firms represented the plaintiffs.

The Zambrano case resulted in litigation which spanned 12 years and produced a complicated procedural history of appeals to and remands from the Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court. A brief synopsis of that history follows.

In 1988, the District Court (Edward J. Garcia) denied defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1255a(f) and granted class certification to two classes. Class 1 plaintiffs were those aliens who applied for legalization and were denied based on the application of the regulations. Class 2 plaintiffs were those aliens who were discouraged from applying due to the illegal regulations. A preliminary injunction was also issued. Zambrano v. INS, 1988 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17592 (E.D. Cal., August 9, 1988). In 1989, Judge Garcia granted plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment and made the injunction permanent, enjoining the INS from enforcing the challenged regulations, denying work authorizations to or deporting class members.

The INS appealed several of the Court's orders and the Ninth Circuit affirmed. Zambrano v. INS, 972 F.2d 1122 (9th Cir.1992). Certiorari was granted and the Supreme Court vacated the judgment and remanded the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for further consideration in light of Reno v. Catholic Social Services, Inc., 509 U.S. 43, 113 S.Ct. 2485, 125 L.Ed.2d 38 (1993) [IM-CA-11 of this collection]. INS v. Zambrano, 509 U.S. 918, 113 S. Ct. 3028, 125 L. Ed. 2d 717 (1993).

After remand to the District Court, the parties unsuccessfully engaged in settlement negotiations. Defendants then moved to dismiss the complaint based on Reno v. Catholic Social Services, Inc. Plaintiffs amended their complaint, dismissing the claims of the class I plaintiffs and adding three new claims, which were allowed to proceed by the District Court.

On September 30, 1996, Congress enacted the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996 ("IIRIRA"). Defendants asked the court to dismiss the case, contending that the §377 of the 1996 Act destroyed the Court's jurisdiction over the case. The motion was denied. The INS appealed.

While the Zambrano case was on appeal, the Ninth Circuit issued its opinion in Catholic Social Services v. Reno, 134 F.3d 921 (9th Cir.1998). [IM-CA-11]. That opinion held that the District Court had no jurisdiction over the remaining claim in Zambrano. As such, the Ninth Circuit vacated the District Court's orders in Zambrano and remanded the case with instructions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction in light of the opinion its opinion in Catholic Social Services v. Reno. Zambrano v. INS, 145 F.3d 1344 (9th Cir. Cal. 1998).

On subsequent remand, the Court dismissed the case. Despite the dismissal, plaintiffs moved for attorneys' fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act. The District Court denied their request and plaintiffs appealed. While the fee issue was on appeal, Congress enacted the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act (LIFE). The LIFE Act and subsequent amendments repealed the challenged section (§377) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. The legislation also specifically created a new amnesty program for eligible class members of the Zambrano, Catholic Social Services v. Reno, and LULAC cases. Applicants from those cases were granted a new one-year period to apply for lawful permanent residence.

Based on the LIFE legislation, the Zambrano plaintiffs sought to relitigate the jurisdiction issue before the Ninth Circuit. The Ninth Circuit did not reconsider the jurisdiction issue and affirmed the District Court's denial of attorney's fees. Zambrano v. INS, 282 F.3d 1145, (9th Cir. 2002), opinion amended at Zambrano v. INS, 302 F.3d 909 (9th Cir. 2002).

There was no further activity on this case

Dan Dalton - 12/18/2007

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Admission - criteria
Admission - procedure
Constitutional rights
Deportation - criteria
Temporary protected status
U.S. citizenship - acquiring
Undocumented immigrants - rights and duties
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA)
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.
Defendant(s) Immigration and Naturalization Service
Plaintiff Description Aliens who applied for legalization under the amnesty program of the IRCA and were denied based on the application of 2 regulations issued by the INS which dealt with the “public charge exclusion.” A second class contained aliens discouraged from applying
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filing Year 1988
Case Closing Year 2002
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing IM-CA-0011 : Catholic Social Services v. Ashcroft (E.D. Cal.)
IM-CA-0019 : LULAC v. INS (C.D. Cal.)
2:88-cv-00455-EJG-PAN (E.D. Cal.)
IM-CA-0008-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/16/2002
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum Opinion and Order (1988 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 17592) (E.D. Cal.)
IM-CA-0008-0005.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/09/1988
Source: LexisNexis
Opinion (972 F.2d 1122)
IM-CA-0008-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/19/1992
Source: Google Scholar
Order [On Petition for Writ of Certiorari] (509 U.S. 918)
IM-CA-0008-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/28/1993
Source: Westlaw
Order (145 F.3d 1344)
IM-CA-0008-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/15/1998
Opinion (1998 U.S.App.LEXIS 9528)
IM-CA-0008-0007.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/07/1998
Source: LexisNexis
Opinion (282 F.3d 1145)
IM-CA-0008-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/07/2002
Source: Google Scholar
Amended Opinion (2002 U.S.App.LEXIS 18167)
IM-CA-0008-0008.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/07/2002
Source: LexisNexis
Opinion (302 F.3d 909)
IM-CA-0008-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/04/2002
Judges Garcia, Edward J. (E.D. Cal.)
IM-CA-0008-0005 | IM-CA-0008-9000
Hall, Cynthia Holcomb (C.D. Cal., Ninth Circuit)
IM-CA-0008-0001 | IM-CA-0008-0004 | IM-CA-0008-0007
Hawkins, Michael Daly (Ninth Circuit)
IM-CA-0008-0002 | IM-CA-0008-0003 | IM-CA-0008-0008
Hug, Procter Ralph Jr. (Ninth Circuit)
IM-CA-0008-0002 | IM-CA-0008-0003 | IM-CA-0008-0008
Kozinski, Alex (Ninth Circuit)
IM-CA-0008-0004 | IM-CA-0008-0007
Muecke, Charles Andrew (D. Ariz.)
Nelson, Dorothy Wright (Ninth Circuit)
IM-CA-0008-0002 | IM-CA-0008-0003 | IM-CA-0008-0008
Nowinski, Peter A. (E.D. Cal.)
Wiggins, Charles Edward (Ninth Circuit)
IM-CA-0008-0001 | IM-CA-0008-0004 | IM-CA-0008-0007
Plaintiff's Lawyers Andrade, Vibiana (California)
IM-CA-0008-0001 | IM-CA-0008-0007 | IM-CA-0008-9000
Argueta, Sylvia (California)
Gee, Pauline W. (California)
IM-CA-0008-0001 | IM-CA-0008-0007 | IM-CA-0008-9000
Hawkins, Michael Daly (Arizona)
IM-CA-0008-0002 | IM-CA-0008-0003 | IM-CA-0008-0008
Jimenez, Martha I. (California)
Nevins, Beth A. (California)
Pearl, Richard M (California)
IM-CA-0008-0002 | IM-CA-0008-0003 | IM-CA-0008-0008 | IM-CA-0008-9000
Rosenbaum, Stephen A. (California)
IM-CA-0008-0001 | IM-CA-0008-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bell, Keisha Dawn (District of Columbia)
IM-CA-0008-0007 | IM-CA-0008-9000
Funk, Stephen W. (District of Columbia)
Howard, William J. (District of Columbia)
IM-CA-0008-0002 | IM-CA-0008-0003 | IM-CA-0008-0008
Keener, Donald E. (District of Columbia)
Kendall, Robert Jr. (District of Columbia)
IM-CA-0008-0001 | IM-CA-0008-9000
Norwood, Anthony W. (District of Columbia)
IM-CA-0008-0002 | IM-CA-0008-0008
Williams, Glyndell E. (California)

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