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CA9 on SIJ Delays: Moreno Galvez v. Jaddou

November 03, 2022 (3 min read)

Moreno Galvez v. Jaddou

"United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) administers the Special Immigrant Juveniles (“SIJ”) program, which provides certain immigrant juveniles a pathway to lawful permanent residence status. Federal law requires the “[e]xpeditious adjudication” of SIJ petitions: “[a]ll applications for special immigrant status . . . shall be adjudicated by the Secretary of Homeland Security not later than 180 days after the date on which the application is filed.” 8 U.S.C. § 1232(d)(2). But the Secretary has not always met this deadline. In fact, as of September 24, 2018, USCIS had a backlog of 32,518 SIJ petitions, 23,589 of which had been pending for more than 180 days. This case does not require us to decide whether USCIS violated § 1232(d)(2) by delaying the adjudication of SIJ petitions. The district court held that USCIS’s delays were unlawful, and the Government does not challenge that holding on appeal. At issue is only whether the district court erred, after granting summary judgment to the plaintiffs, by issuing a permanent injunction and in crafting its terms and scope. The injunction holds USCIS strictly to the 180-day deadline but permits SIJ petitioners in certain circumstances to “toll” the deadline to respond to a request for evidence or a notice of intention to deny sent by USCIS. We affirm the district court’s issuance of the permanent injunction and, in part, affirm the injunction’s scope and terms. But because the injunction’s tolling provision is not narrowly tailored to remedying irreparable harm, does not contemplate USCIS’s relevant regulations, and reflects a failure to measure the parties’ proposed tolling provisions each by the same standard, we vacate the tolling provision and remand to the district court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. ... For the reasons stated above, we AFFIRM the district court’s issuance of injunctive relief; we VACATE only the provision of the district court’s permanent injunction that permits SIJ petitioners (but not the Government) to “toll” Congress’s deadline for adjudicating SIJ petitions; and we REMAND to the district court to make any further, proper modifications to its order consistent with this disposition. We encourage the parties on remand to present the district court with more practical terms for an injunction that considers Congress’s plain directive and the parties’ respective interests."

GRABER, Circuit Judge, dissenting in part: "With one exception, I concur in the majority’s opinion. In my view, the district court did not abuse its discretion in any way. Accordingly, I would simply affirm. ... On appeal, USCIS raises several arguments that challenge the injunction. The majority opinion correctly rejects most of those arguments, Maj. Op. at 1–21, and I join that analysis in full. But the majority opinion agrees with USCIS on one point: that the third provision described above is unreasonable. Maj. Op. at 21–29. I emphatically disagree. In my view, the district court did not abuse its discretion when it allowed the beneficiary of a deadline the opportunity to request additional time. Accordingly, I respectfully dissent from section IV.B.2. ... The majority opinion fails to explain why, considering the whole context of this case, the district court’s inclusion of a 10 provision that any applicant is entitled to toll the 180 days simply upon request constitutes an abuse of discretion. In sum, because the district court acted well within its discretion in issuing the injunction in this case, I respectfully dissent from section IV.B.2."

[Hats off to Matt Adams (argued), Aaron Korthuis, Leila Kang, and Margot M. Adams, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Seattle, Washington; Tim Warden-Hertz, Meghan E. Casey, and Olivia Saldaña-Schulman, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Tacoma, Washington; for Plaintiffs-Appellees, and Catherin Weiss, Tracy Buffer, Amanda K. Cipriano, and Maxine Peskens, Lowenstein Sandler LLP, Roseland, New Jersey, for Amici Curiae Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. (Clinic), Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services Inc., The Door, Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project, Immigrant Justice Corps, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, The Legal Aid Society, New Jersey Consortium for Immigrant Children, Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project (PAIR), Public Counsel, Safe Passage Project, and Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights!"