On March 24, 1988, individual nonimmigrant aliens and various immigration rights organizations filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, challenging certain INS policies and regulations relating to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). Specifically, plaintiffs challenged the interpretation of the requirement that to qualify for legalization under the IRCA the nonimmigrant must have lived continuously and unlawfully in the U.S. since January 1, 1982, and that their unlawful status was "known to the government."
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 (1) applied for such adjustment within the 12-month period between May 5, 1987, and May 4, 1988; (2) lived continuously and unlawfully in the U.S. since January 1, 1982 with their unlawful status "known to the government"; and (3) been continuously physically present in the United States except for ''brief, casual, and innocent absences,'' since November 6, 1986.
Plaintiffs challenged the INS' regulations 8 C.F.R. §§ 245a.1(d), 245a.2(b) (1992) which interpreted the IRCA's "continuous unlawful residence since 1982" and "known to the government" requirements. Plaintiffs alleged that the regulations violated the plain meaning of the IRCA, as well as the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fifth Amendment. Plaintiffs sought class certification and declaratory and injunctive relief. They were represented by attorneys with various advocacy groups, including the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, as well as private counsel.
This case was one of several major lawsuits filed throughout the country, challenging different policies and practices used by the INS to implement the IRCA amnesty program. 8 U.S.C. § 1255a. See Ayuda, Inc. v. Meese
, No. 1:88-cv-00625-SS (D.D.C.) [IM-DC-0003
]; Catholic Soc. Servs. v. Attorney General
, No. 2:86-cv-01343-LKK-JFM (E.D. Cal.) [IM-CA-0011
]; Zambrano v. INS
, No. 2:88-cv-00455-EJG-PAN (E.D. Cal.) [IM-CA-0008
] and League of United Latin Am. Citizens v. INS
, No. 2:87-cv-04757-WDK-CW (C.D. Cal.) [IM-CA-0019
Like the other cases challenging the INS' interpretation of 8 U.S.C. § 1255a, this case resulted in litigation which spanned over a decade and produced a very complicated procedural history of appeals and remands from the Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court. A brief synopsis of that history follows.
On August 29, 1988, plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint, which the INS moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. The District Court granted the motion as to the individual plaintiffs, but denied it as to the organizational plaintiffs, finding that they had standing in the case in that they alleged the challenged regulations impaired their goals of helping immigrants and caused a financial burden on their resources. Class certification was denied.
On March 7, 1989, the District Court (Chief Judge Barbara J. Rothstein) granted in part plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, dismissed certain plaintiffs from the case and denied the defendants' motion to dismiss or for summary judgment. The Court declared that the regulations were unlawful and issued an injunction, which was narrower than requested by plaintiffs. Immigration Assistance Project of the L.A. Cnty. Fed'n of Labor (AFL-CIO) v. INS
, 709 F. Supp. 998 (W.D. Wash. 1989). The judgment was amended on June 3, 1989, see Immigration Assistance Project of the L.A. Cnty. Fed'n of Labor (AFL-CIO) v. INS
, 717 F.Supp. 1444 (W.D. Wash.1989); affirmed in part and reversed in part by the Ninth Circuit, see Legalization Assistance Project of the L.A. Cnty. Fed'n of Labor (AFL-CIO) v. INS
, 976 F.2d 1198 (9th Cir. 1992); and vacated and remanded by the Supreme Court for reconsideration in light of Heller v. Doe
, 509 U. S. 312 (1993), and Reno v. Catholic Social Services, Inc.
, 509 U. S. 43 (1993) [IM-CA-0011
], see INS v. Legalization Assistance Project of the L.A. Cnty. Fed'n of Labor
, 510 U.S. 1007 (1993).
On remand, the plaintiffs sought leave to file a Second Amended Complaint, which again sought class certification and declaratory and injunctive relief. The District Court preliminarily certified the case as a class action, and entered a TRO. A series of orders and appeals followed. (See Immigrant Assistance Project of the L.A. Cnty. Fed'n of Labor (AFL-CIO) v. INS
, 306 F.3d 842 (9th Cir. 2002), for a more detailed procedural history). Ultimately, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the District Court's reinstatement of its class certification order and its modified reinstatement of its TRO. Id
. The case was remanded to allow plaintiffs to amend the complaint to cure any jurisdictional and venue defects.
After five more years of litigation, the case was settled. Simply stated, the settlement allowed certain individuals, who were turned away when they attempted to apply for legalization or "amnesty" under the Immigration to Reform and Control Act of 1986, to apply for legalization. The settlement also allowed certain individuals who had filed applications and whose applications had been denied to move to reopen their applications with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS). Under the settlement, the parties agreed to class certification. The requirements for class membership were quite complex, and prospective class members were required to fill out a detailed Class Member Worksheet. A copy of the Stipulation for Settlement and its attachments is part of the collection of documents we have for this case.
The District Court (Judge James L. Robart) approved the settlement, along with attorney's fees and costs, on September 9, 2008.Christopher Schad - 06/22/2012