On November 12, 1986, Catholic Social Services filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, challenging the Immigration and Naturalization Service's ("INS") interpretation 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 case were Zambrano v. INS, S-88-455 EJG (E.D.Cal.) [IM-CA-8 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. To qualify for this program, the alien must have been in the United States since January 1, 1982, and must have been continuously physically present in the United States except for ''brief, casual, and innocent absences,'' since November 6, 1986. The INS later issued a regulation that stated if an alien made any departure and subsequent reentry after November 6, 1986, without prior authorization from the INS (known as "advanced parole"), the alien would be ineligible for legalization, no matter how brief, casual, or otherwise innocent the absence. As a result of this regulation, the INS rejected applications submitted by aliens who had traveled abroad for brief periods during the required period of continuous residence without obtaining advanced parole. Plaintiffs challenged the legality of the "advanced parole" provision. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief.
The Catholic Social Services case resulted in litigation which spanned over 20 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.
Shortly after suit was filed, District Court (Judge Karlton) issued a TRO, enjoining the INS from deporting these undocumented aliens under IRCA. He also provisionally certified the class. as all of the people who have been or may be deported or issued voluntary departure who are considered by the defendant as deportable aliens who can establish a prima facie claim or a nonfrivolous claim for adjustment of status to temporary resident. That order was reversed on appeal. Catholic Social Services v. Meese, 813 F.2d 1500 (E.D. California 1987), opinion withdrawn and vacated, Catholic Social Services v. Meese, 820 F.2d 289 (9th Cir. 1987).
On June 17, 1987, the district court (Judge Karlton) stated that the "statutory prohibition against the exclusion of aliens applied to those who were apprehended after the effective date of the statute and whose last attempted entry into the United States occurred after the effective date of the statute," favored the grant of injunction due to the hardships of the plaintiffs and the consideration of public interest." Catholic Social Services v. Meese, 664 F.Supp. 1378 (E.D. California 1987). On May 3, 1988, the court approved the amended definition of the class certification to include: "(1) All person prima facie eligible for legalization under INA § 245A who departed and reentered the U.S. without INS authorization after the enactment of IRCA following what they assert to have been a brief, casual and innocent absence from the U.S.; or (2) all persons having a non-frivolous claim to legalization under INA § 210 who reentered or attempted to reenter the U.S. without INS authorization on or after November 6, 1986." Catholic Social Services v. Meese, 685 F.Supp. 1149 (E.D. California 1988)
On remand, the district court entered judgment in favor of plaintiffs, striking down the INS' advance parole rule. Catholic Soc. Servs. v. Meese, 685 F. Supp. 1149 (E.D. Cal. 1988), affirmed, Catholic Soc. Servs. v. Thornburgh, 956 F.2d 914 (9th Cir. 1992). The case went to the Supreme Court, which vacated the district court judgment and remanded the case as it determined that some of the class members claims were not ripe. The Court found that some class members had ripe claims, particularly those individuals whose applications had been summarily rejected by an INS legalization assistant due to perceived violations of the challenged travel regulation. (Rejection of the applications outright was known as "front-desking.") Reno v. Catholic Soc. Servs., 509 U.S. 43 (1993).
On remand, the District Court (Judge Karlton) issued an order amending the definition of the class to include:
All persons, otherwise eligible for legalization under IRCA, who, after November 6, 1986, depart or departed the United States for brief, innocent and casual absences without advance parole, and who (i) are therefore deemed ineligible for legalization, or (ii) were informed that they were ineligible to apply for legalization, or were refused by the INS or its QDEs legalization forms and for whom such information, or inability to obtain the required application forms, was a substantial cause of their failure to timely file or complete a written application.
The INS appealed the order. While the case was on appeal, Congress amended the immigration laws by enacting the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. A provision of that Act sought to limit court review of legalization claims.
In January, 1998, the Ninth Circuit found that the newly enacted legislation stripped the district court of jurisdiction over plaintiffs' claims as none of the named plaintiffs had alleged that they actually tendered an application and fee or tried to do so but had the application "front-desked." Catholic Social Services v. Reno, 134 F.3d 921 (9th Cir. 1998). The case was remanded for dismissal.
On April 7, 1998, plaintiffs filed a new complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California which was assigned case #2:98-cv-00629-LKK-JFM), which added claims of plaintiffs whose applications had been front desked. The new complaint also sought to challenged the constitutionality of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.
Judge Karlton again granted a TRO, and entered a preliminary injunction, prohibiting the deportation of the class of aliens qualified to challenge advance parole policy. Catholic Social Services v. Meese, 1998 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 10429 (E.D. California 1998). Defendants appealed and the Ninth Circuit (Judge O'Scannlain) reversed. Catholic Social Services, Inc. v. I.N.S., 182 F.3d 1053 (9th Cir. 1999). On rehearing en banc, the Court of Appeals (Judge William A. Fletcher) affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded.
On December, 2000 Congress enacted the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act (LIFE). The LIFE Act repealed the challenged section (§377) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. Based on the enactment of LIFE, in August 2001, the District Court (Judge Karlton) reinstated the previously dismissed case (CSS I, docket #86-1343) and consolidated it with the second filed case (CSS II, #98-629.).
On February 15, 2002, the District Court (Judge Karlton) amended the class certification to include the class members from CSS I as well as the members "who were not part of the original class, but who were subject to the same statutes requiring that aliens seeking legalization under IRCA must have presented complete application form to legalization officer in order for court to have jurisdiction over cause of action by alien, for limited purpose of challenging the jurisdiction-stripping provisions on Equal Protection grounds." Catholic Social Services v. Ashcroft, 206 F.R.D. 654 (E.D. Cal. 2002).
Settlement discussions soon followed and an agreement was reached in late 2003. On January 23, 2004, Judge Karlton approved the settlement, which allowed class members to apply for permanent resident status under the amnesty program beginning about March 2004. For the full settlement terms, see the Joint Stipulation Regarding Settlement, which is part of the document collection for this case.
In March, 2004, Judge Karlton ordered defendants to pay plaintiffs $3.5 million as full settlement of all claims for attorneys' fees and $100,000 for costs.
On May 15, 2007, the court (Judge Karlton) dismissed with prejudice all claims from the complaint as amended, and dissolved any injunctive orders and decisions. No further activity was noted.Erica Woodruff - 08/21/2007