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Published Decisions

Zhovtonizhko v. Garland, No. 21-584, --- F.4th ---, 2023 WL 3859005 (9th Cir. June 7, 2023)

The Ninth Circuit held that remand was required for the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to consider whether the revised statute of conviction was categorically a crime involving moral turpitude. The petitioner, a lawful permanent resident, petitioned for review of a decision of the BIA finding him removable for his two convictions of attempting to elude police vehicles, under Washington law, as two crimes involving moral turpitude not arising out of single scheme of criminal misconduct.

Koonwaiyou v. Blinken, No. 22-35233, --- F.4th ---, 2023 WL 3857504 (9th Cir. June 7, 2023)

The Ninth Circuit held that the statute must be read retroactively as applied to an individual born in Western Samoa to an American Samoan mother seeking his certificate of non-citizen nationality. The petitioner argued that his American Samoan mother's non-citizen national status extended to her birth, even though she was born before the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) amendment extended non-citizen national status to American Samoans, and thus her son born in Western Samoa to a Western Samoan father was entitled to non-citizen national status, even though his mother did not obtain non-citizen national status until after her son's birth.

Matter of Custody of A.N.D.M., 527 P.3d 111 (Wash. Ct. App. 2023)

NWIRP authored a supporting amicus brief cited in the descision. The Washington Court of Appeals held that (1) the case was not moot, (2) a superior court judge acting as a family court judge or a superior court family law commissioner acting with the same authority is a "juvenile court" for purposes of Special Immigrant Juvenile status applications, and (3) the juvenile court judge erred in asking why the youth's mother could not return to Honduras, when the judge was supposed to inquire whether it was in the youth's interest to return to Honduras.

Alfred v. Garland, 64 F.4th 1025 (9th Cir. 2023) (en banc)

The en banc Ninth Circuit overturned a prior NWIRP victory in Alfred v. Garland, 13 F.4th 980 (9th Cir. 2021). The en banc court held in considering whether Washington offenses are overbroad, a court must consider an argument that accomplice liability renders that offense overbroad. Nevertheless, in the case before it, the Court ruled that Washington state second degree robbery is not overbroad compared to the generic definition of theft under the INA because Washington accomplice liability does not extend beyond the definition of generic accomplice liability.

Galvez v. Jaddou, 52 F.4th 821 (9th Cir. 2022)

The Ninth Circuit affirmed an injunction entered following summary judgment that requires USCIS to adjudicate applications for Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status from Washington state within 180 days, as required by 8 U.S.C. § 1232(d)(2). The Court vacated only a portion of the injunction that allowed SIJ petitioners to toll the 180-day deadline.

Garland v. Aleman Gonzalez, 142 S. Ct. 2057 (2022)

The Supreme Court held that 8 U.S.C. § 1252(f)(1) prohibits lower courts from entering injunctions that "order federal officials to take or to refrain from taking actions to enforce, implement, or otherwise carry out" certain parts of the Immigration and Nationality Act, including its detention provisions. The Court's decision overturned NWIRP victories at the district court and Ninth Circuit guaranteeing bond hearings after six months of detention for people in withholding-only proceedings. The Ninth Circuit decision was Flores Tejada v. Godfrey, 954 F.3d 1245 (9th Cir. 2020).

Hernandez-Galand v. Garland, 996 F.3d 1030 (9th Cir. 2021)

The Ninth Circuit held that the BIA erred in refusing to reopen the case of a mother and her minor child. The mother and child failed to appear for an immigration court hearing and were ordered removed after they misunderstood the date for their next hearing, due in part to the mother’s memory difficulties. The Court of Appeals held that ruling otherwise would produce unconscionable results, especially because the mother’s minor child had demonstrated a credible fear of persecution.

Castañeda Juarez v. Asher, 556 F.Supp.3d 1181 (W.D. Wash. 2021)

The district court ordered the government to test noncitizens transferred to the Northwest Detention Center for COVID-19, as well as to take additional measures based on those test results to ensure that COVID-19 did not spread in the facility. The court took this action after transfers to the Northwest Detention Center caused a severe outbreak, including the hospitalization of medically vulnerable detainees.

Council on Am.-Islamic Rels.-Washington v. United States Customs & Border Prot., 492 F. Supp. 3d 1158 (W.D. Wash. 2020)

The district court ordered the government to conduct a more thorough search and release additional records related to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s detention of Iranian lawful permanent residents and citizens of the United States of Iranian heritage in early January 2020. Significantly, the court noted and later ordered released in large part a directive from the Seattle CBP Field Office that ordered the detention of all Iranians at ports of entry in the northwest United States because that directive was illegal and thus not shielded from release under the Freedom of Information Act.

Wagafe v. Trump, 334 F.R.D. 619 (W.D. Wash. 2020)

In this decision, the district court addressed a critical discovery dispute regarding documents which the government claimed were covered by the law enforcement and deliberative process privileges. The Wagafe case concerns the government’s program of vetting the immigration applications of certain noncitizens based on alleged national security rationales, and the district court ordered some, but not all, of the documents at issue in this decision to be released, notwithstanding the government’s claims that doing so would harm national security.

Pimentel-Estrada v. Barr, 458 F. Supp. 3d 1226 (W.D. Wash. 2020)

The district court ordered the release of a noncitizen held at the Northwest Detention Center after concluding that ICE had failed to take adequate precautions at NWDC to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reynaga Hernandez v. Skinner, 969 F.3d 930 (9th Cir. 2020)

The Court of Appeals affirmed a grant of summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff. NWIRP’s client had been arrested by a deputy sheriff based on statements from a Montana Justice of the Peace, alleging that he had heard NWIRP’s client was an “illegal immigrant” during an order of protection hearing. The Ninth Circuit found that the law clearly established that this was not a lawful basis for arrest and that even the judge could be held liable as an “integral participant” in the unlawful arrest.

Nightingale v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigr. Servs., 507 F. Supp. 3d 1193 (N.D. Cal. 2020)

In a nationwide class action, the district court ordered USCIS to provide class members, who are people seeking a copy of their “A file,” with a copy of those files within the timeframe required by the Freedom of Information Act.

Moreno Galvez v. Cuccinelli, 492 F. Supp. 3d 1169 (W.D. Wash. 2020)

The district court issued a permanent injunction barring USCIS from applying its policy that made certain immigrant youth in Washington State ineligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile status, a key pathway for immigrant youth to become lawful permanents residents. The district court also required USCIS to adjudicate the Special Immigrant Juvenile status applications of Washington youth within 180 days, as the Immigration and Nationality Act requires.

Nw. Immigrant Rts. Project v. United States Citizenship & Immigr. Servs., 496 F. Supp. 3d 31 (D.D.C. 2020)

The district court issued a preliminary injunction enjoining USCIS’s new rule that sought to raise fees imposed on immigrants filing for certain immigration benefits by hundreds of dollars, and also imposed new fees on asylum seekers. The Court held that USCIS’s director did not have authority to issue the new rule, and that the rule was arbitrary and capricious.

Nielsen v. Preap, 139 S. Ct. 954 (2019)

The Supreme Court overturned NWIRP's success before the Ninth Circuit in Khoury v. Asher, 667 F. App'x 966, 967 (9th Cir. 2016). In Preap, the Court held that 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c) does not require the Department of Homeland Security to immediately detain a person when the noncitizen "is released" from other other forms of custody, and as a result, such individuals are not entitled to a bond hearing when detained by immigration authorities.

Sosa Segura v. United States, 418 F. Supp. 3d 605 (E.D. Wash. 2019)

The district court held that the plaintiff, who had been arrested by Border Patrol officers after disembarking a Greyhound bus, had stated a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Specifically, the court concluded that the plaintiff could alleged an FTCA violation where his complaint asserted that the officers arrested him based on his race in violation of the Washington Law Against Discrimination.

C.J.L.G. v. Barr, 923 F.3d 622 (9th Cir. 2019)

In an en banc decision, the Ninth Circuit held that an immigration judge erred by failing to advise an immigrant youth in removal proceedings of the possibility of applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile status. A concurrence in the case also agreed that the government violated the youth’s due process rights by not appointing him counsel.

Reynaga Hernandez v. Skinner, 383 F. Supp. 3d 1077 (D. Mont. 2019)

The district court granted summary judgment in favor of an individual who had been arrested by a Yellowstone County deputy sheriff after the Justice of the Peace called the sheriff’s department to report that there was an “illegal” outside his courtroom. The court held both the deputy sheriff and the judge liable, concluding they violated clearly established law and were both key participants in the unlawful arrest.

Moreno Galvez v. Cuccinelli, 387 F. Supp. 3d 1208 (W.D. Wash. 2019)

The district court issued a preliminary injunction barring USCIS from applying its policy that made certain immigrant youth in Washington State ineligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile status, a key pathway for immigrant youth to become lawful permanents residents. The district court also issued a preliminary injunction requiring USCIS to adjudicate the Special Immigrant Juvenile status applications of Washington youth within 180 days, as the Immigration and Nationality Act requires.

Rodriguez Macareno v. Thomas, 378 F. Supp. 3d 933 (W.D. Wash. 2019)

The Court denied the motion to dismiss of Tukwila police officers, who arrested NWIRP’s client after he called the police for assistance with a trespasser. The police instead arrested him, after reviewing his identification and learning there was an administrative warrant from ICE in his name. The district court held that the police officers violated clearly established law by arresting the individual on this basis, since such a warrant does not provide probable cause of criminal activity.

Nightingale v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigr. Servs., 333 F.R.D. 449 (N.D. Cal. 2019)

The district court certified a nationwide class of individuals bringing a claim under the Freedom of Information Act, in a case involving the government’s systemic delays in responding to FOIA requests by individuals seeking a copy of their “A files.”

Banda v. McAleenan, 385 F. Supp. 3d 1099 (W.D. Wash. 2019)

The Court ordered that Mr. Banda, an arriving noncitizen seeking asylum, receive a bond hearing where the government would be required to justify continued detention by clear and convincing evidence, after Mr. Banda had spent 17 months of detention without any bond hearing.

Lanuza v. Love, 899 F.3d 1019 (9th Cir. 2018)

The Ninth Circuit reversed a district court decision concluding that the plaintiff could not seek damages for the violation of his constitutional rights. The case involved an ICE attorney who had forged the signature of the plaintiff when that individual was in removal proceedings, resulting in an order of removal against him.

Medina v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec., 313 F. Supp. 3d 1237 (W.D. Wash. 2018)

The Court granted a preliminary injunction enjoining the government from rescinding the plaintiff’s DACA status after the government tried to do so based on the plaintiff’s alleged gang association for which there was no evidence.

Mendez Rojas v. Johnson, 305 F. Supp. 3d 1176 (W.D. Wash. 2018)

The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, who were noncitizens who did not receive notice that they needed to file their asylum applications within one year of entering the United States. The court held that the government had failed to provide adequate notice of the one-year deadline, ordered the government to create a new, adequate notice, and concluded that the government could not deny class members’ applications based on the one year deadline until adequate notice was given.

Silva v. Campbell, 378 F. Supp. 3d 928 (E.D. Wash. 2018)

The district court granted a protective order for a noncitizen suing over his unlawful arrest where the defendants sought discovery of the plaintiff’s employment history and immigration status. The court reasoned that this information was not relevant to the case and requiring the information, especially immigration status information, would deter other noncitizens from seeking to assert their civil rights.

Ramirez v. Brown, 852 F.3d 954, 955 (9th Cir. 2017)

The Court of Appeals held that a grant of Temporary Protected Status satisfied the “inspected and admitted” requirement that a noncitizen present in the United States needs to satisfy to adjust status to become a lawful permanent resident. This decision was later abrogated by the Supreme Court in Sanchez v. Mayorkas, 141 S. Ct. 1809 (2021).

Sanchez Ochoa v. Campbell, 266 F. Supp. 3d 1237 (E.D. Wash. 2017)

The district court granted a temporary restraining order against Yakima County defendants when they placed an immigration hold on a detainee in their custody pursuant to an ICE administrative warrant, even though the individual was eligible for bail under state law. The Court held that this practice violates the Fourth Amendment and ordered the County to lift the “immigration hold” placed on the plaintiff.

J.E.F.M. v. Lynch, 837 F.3d 1026, 1029 (9th Cir. 2016)

The Ninth Circuit held in this case that the district court did not have jurisdiction to consider a nationwide class of noncitizen children’s right to counsel claim. The court reasoned that the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act channel such right to counsel claims into removal proceedings and the petition for review process.

Vargas Ramirez v. United States, 93 F. Supp. 3d 1207 (W.D. Wash. 2015)

The district court granted summary judgment for the plaintiff, holding that a Border Patrol agent committed the tort of false arrest when that agent directed a local police officer to arrest a noncitizen, despite lacking probable cause the noncitizen was unlawfully present in the United States.

Brown v. U.S. Customs & Border Prot., 132 F. Supp. 3d 1170, 1171 (N.D. Cal. 2015)

The district court denied a motion to dismiss in a putative class action again U.S. Customs and Border Protection for failure to provide timely responses to Freedom of Information Act requests.

Rivera v. Holder, 307 F.R.D 539 (W.D. Wa. 2015)

The federal district court certified the class and granted summary judgment, issuing declaratory and injunctive relief which clarified that immigration judges (“IJs”) have authority under INA § 236(a), 8 U.S.C. § 1226(a) to grant release on conditional parole as an alternative to release on a monetary bond.

Mondaca-Vega v. Lynch, 808 F.3d 413, 416 (9th Cir. 2015) (en banc)

The en banc Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review in a case where the petitioner asserted that he was a U.S. citizen, after the case had been referred to district court for factual findings. The Court articulated the burden framework for cases where a noncitizen asserts a claim to U.S. citizenship and the Court of Appeals' standard of review of district court fact-finding. In the case before it, the Court ultimately concluded that the government met its burden to show that the petitioner was not a U.S. citizen.

Duran-Gonzales v. DHS, 702 F.3d 504 (9th Cir. 2013)

The Court of Appeals reversed and vacated its prior opinion in response to the petition for rehearing en banc. The Court found that although the agency was entitled to change the rules pursuant to the Supreme Court's holding inBrand X, the change in law does not necessarily apply retroactively to class members who had applied for adjustment of status under INA 245(i), prior to the agency changing the rules to render them ineligible. The Court of Appeals remanded to the District Court to determine how class members benefit from the appropriate retroactivity test.

Chay Ixcot v. Holder, --F.3d--, (9th Cir. June 1, 2011)

The Court ruled that the agency violated the law by trying to reinstate a prior deportation order rather than first completing adjudication of his pending application for political asylum. The Court ruled that applying the new reinstatement law that was enacted three years after he applied in order to deprive Mr. Chay Ixcot of the right to have his pending asylum application heard would have an unlawful retroactive effect at it “would impair rights a party possessed when he acted.”

Lopez-Birrueta v. Holder, 633 F.3d 1211(9th Cir. 2011)

The Court found that the Immigration Judge and Board of Immigration Appeals erred in applying a restrictive interpretation of battery for purposes of establishing eligibility for cancellation of removal for victims of domestic violence. In this case, Ms. Lopez’ children had been beaten with a stick when they were two and three years old. Nonetheless, the Immigration Judge found that since there was no lasting injury it did not demonstrate a heightened level of violence necessary to qualify for relief for victims of domestic violence. The Court swept aside the agency’s determination clarifying that there is no requirement for a heightened level of violence. The court also rejected the government’s position that the immigration court could consider state-law definitions when determining what is required under this federal law. The Ninth Circuit concluded that the undisputed evidence of physical abuse that M.L.B.’s children suffered clearly met the standard necessary for protection under VAWA.

Franco-Gonzales v. Holder, -- F.Supp.2d --, 2010 WL 5874537 (C.D.Cal. Dec. 27, 2010)

The Court granted preliminary injunction for named plaintiffs, finding as a matter of first impression that mentally incompetent plaintiffs were entitled to reasonable accommodation of appointment of counsel, under the Rehabilitation Act and also ruling that Plaintiffs were entitled to a custody hearing.

Cortez-Guillen v. Holder, 623 F.3d 933 (9th Cir. 2010)

The Court ruled that the agency erred in ordering the petitioner removed. The Court reiterated that the agency is bound by the elements of the crime, even with regards to the realistic probability test. A such, the Alaskan coercion statute does not categorically qualify as aggravated felony crime of violence as it may encompass threats regarding unlawful conduct that are not violent crimes. The petitioner been a lawful permanent resident for almost thirty years.

Bromfield v. Mukasey, 543 F.3d 1071 (9th Cir. 2008)

The Court ruled that the record compels a finding that there exists a pattern and practice of persecution against gay men in Jamaica. The agency also erred by failing to recognize that the Jamaican government not only acquiesces in the torture of gay men, but is also directly involved in such torture. The Court further clarified that even where a petitioner has been found removable based upon an aggravated felony the Court retains jurisdiction to review claims for withholding of removal and relief under the Convention Against Torture if the denial was based upon the merits of the claim.

Doissaint v. Mukasey, 538 F.3d 1167 (9th Cir. 2008)

The Court ruled that the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) had erred in failing to address the Petitioner’s arguments as to eligibility for protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The Court also held that the BIA could not try to cure its own error by denying a motion to reopen by the petitioner.

Roshandel v. Chertoff, 554 F.Supp.2d 1194 (W.D.Wash. 2008)

The District Court granted the motion certifying district wide class of applicants for naturalization whose applications had not been timely adjudicated after their interview, as a result of the agency’s failure to complete the namecheck. This is the first class certified on this issue in the nation.

Mandujano-Real v. Mukasey, 526 F.3d 585 (9th Cir. 2008)

The Court ruled that an identity theft conviction does not qualify as an aggravated felony theft conviction for immigration purposes because the elements of the identity theft statute encompass many forms of conduct that do not fall under the common law definition of theft. The Court also clarified that it was not appropriate to remand the case to the BIA where the BIA’s interpretation was not entitled to deference and the BIA had an opportunity to address the issues presented. Finally, the Court reconfirmed that the government may not rely upon an individual’s concession of removability that is incorrect as a legal matter.

Suazo-Perez v. Mukasey, 512 F.3d 1222 (9th Cir. 2008)

The Court held that the Immigration Judge and Board of Immigration Appeals erred in finding that the petitioner’s misdemeanor conviction for assault constituted a crime of violence and thus rendered him deportable despite his lawful permanent resident status.

Hosseini v. Gonzales, 464 F.3d 1018 (9th Cir. 2006)

The Court found that an applicant for relief who has been identified as a supporter of a counterrevolutionary group in Iran qualifies for relief under the Convention Against Torture even where the individual had not experienced past torture.

Hernandez-Guadarrama v. Ashcroft, 394 F.3d 674 (9th Cir. 2005)

The Court reaffirmed an often-ignored principle: that the government cannot use statements against non-citizens in removal proceedings without making a reasonable attempt to have the affiants available for cross-examination. This point is especially crucial where the government itself removed the affiants instead of making them available at the removal proceedings.

Cuevas-Gaspar v. Gonzales, 430 F.3d 1013 (9th Cir. 2005)

The Court held that a conviction for burglary in the State of Washington does not categorically constitute a crime involving moral turpitude. In addition, the Court ruled the lawful admission and residence of the parents can be imputed to a minor child for purposes of qualifying for cancellation of removal.

Perez-Gonzalez v. Ashcroft, 379 F.3d 783 (9th Cir. 2004)

The Court found that certain individuals with prior deportation orders are nonetheless entitled to have their applications for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence along with the necessary waivers adjudicated before the government can moved to reinstate the prior order of removal. The Court held that notwithstanding the prior deportation or removal orders, such individuals are still eligible to become permanent residents. Before Perez-Gonzalez, the vast majority of these individuals were being summarily deported without a hearing and denied the opportunity to become permanent residents.

Garcia-Lopez v. Ashcroft, 334 F.3d 840 (9th Cir. 2003) (1)

The Court ruled that prior offense of grand theft would not be considered misdemeanor under California statute providing that “wobbler” offense was to be treated as misdemeanor after judgment imposed punishment other than imprisonment in state prison, but (2) California court's declaration that such offense was misdemeanor was binding on BIA.

Castro-Cortez v. Ashcroft, 239 F.3d 1037 (9th Cir. 2001)

The Court found that it had jurisdiction to directly review administrative reinstatement orders, and that the provision of Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) permitting INS to reinstate prior orders of removal did not apply retroactively.