Challenging Obstacles to Meeting The One Year Filing Deadline for Filing An Asylum Application

Challenging Obstacles to Meeting The One Year Filing Deadline for Filing An Asylum Application

Mendez-Rojas v. Johnson, No. 2:16-cv-01024-RSM (W.D. Wash. Filed June 30, 2016)


On January 10, 2017, the District Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification. The newly certified classes—consisting of thousands of asylum-seekers—include those who enter the United States, express a fear of return to their home countries, and then are released from immigration custody in order to pursue asylum claims, without receiving notice from the DHS that they must file their asylum applications within one year of their arrival to the United States. Shortly thereafter the government moved to dismiss the case, raising the same arguments that the Court had rejected when it certified the class. On March 28, 2017, the Court denied Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss.

On October 30, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment.

On March 29, 2018, the District Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment.  The court found that the failure to provide all class members with notice of the one-year asylum application period violates Congressional intent to ensure that asylum is available for those with legitimate claims of asylum. Thus, the failure to provide notice violates the APA and the INA. In addition, the lack of notice – where, among other problems, notice was confusing and misleading and where class members are particularly vulnerable -  violates the 5th Amendment Due Process Clause. Finally, the lack of an adequate mechanism to timely file their asylum applications violates class members’ statutory right to apply for asylum and the APA.

The court ordered Defendants:

  • To adopt within 90 days, a notice of the one-year filing deadline, in consultation with class members, and to thereafter provide notice to all class members who have already been released from DHS custody.  For all future class members who have not been released, DHS Defendants shall provide notice prior to or at the time of release from custody;
  • To accept as timely filed any asylum application from a class member that is filed within one year of the date of adoption of the notice; and
  • Within 120 days of this Order, to adopt and publicize, in consultation with class members, uniform procedural mechanisms that will ensure class members are able to file their asylum applications in a timely manner, and to thereafter immediately implement this procedure.

Plaintiffs’ counsel has issued a Frequently Asked Questions regarding initial implementation of the court’s order.

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