Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

J.L. v. Cuccinelli

United States District Court, N.D. California

December 18, 2019

J.L., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
KENNETH T. CUCCINELLI, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING FINAL APPROVAL OF THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT RE: DKT. NO. 222

          NATHANAEL M. COUSINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the Plaintiffs' motion for final approval of a class action settlement between a class of immigrant juveniles seeking immigration relief and the United States Department of Homeland Security, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and associated officers. See Dkt. No. 222. The terms of the settlement are set forth in the Settlement Agreement filed on October 25, 2019 (see Dkt. No. 211-2, Ex. A) and were preliminarily approved by the Court (see Dkt. No. 218). Because the Settlement Agreement satisfies the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e) and due process, the Court GRANTS final approval of the settlement.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         The factual background and legal framework for this case has been summarized in greater detail in the Court's prior orders. See Dkt. Nos. 49, 112, 142. The Court will briefly recount those facts and the procedural history of this case here.

         In August 2018, individual plaintiffs J.L., M.D.G.B., and J.B.A. filed this lawsuit alleging that USCIS implemented a blanket policy denying petitions for Special Immigrant Juvenile (“SIJ”) status under 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(27)(J). See Dkt. No. 1. Under that statute, unmarried immigrants under the age of 21 may apply for SIJ status if they were declared dependent on a state juvenile court, could not be reunited with one or both of their parents, and it would not be in their best interest to be returned to their previous country of residence. See 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(27)(J)(i)-(ii). If granted, SIJ status provided a pathway to permanent residency and citizenship. See 8 U.S.C. §§ 1255, 1427.

         According to Plaintiffs, USCIS believed that California courts did not have jurisdiction to make the required findings to establish SIJ eligibility because California courts could not reunite individuals over the age of 18 with their parents. USCIS thus began denying SIJ applications based on California court dependency orders. Plaintiffs argued that this practice was contrary to law because California explicitly granted its courts the power to make the necessary findings for SIJ status. See Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 155; Cal. Prob. Code § 1510.1.

         On October 24, 2018, the Court granted Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction and enjoined Defendants from denying SIJ status on the grounds that a California Probate Court does not have jurisdiction or authority to “reunify” an 18- to 20-year-old with his or her parents. See Dkt. No. 49.

         Following that order, Plaintiffs amended their complaint and moved for class certification. See Dkt. Nos. 70, 71. On February 1, 2019, the Court certified a class of

Children who have received or will receive guardianship orders pursuant to California Probate Code § 1510.1(a) and who have received or will receive denials of their SIJS petitions on the grounds that the state court that issued the SIJ Findings lacked jurisdiction because the court did not have the authority to reunify the children with their parents.

See Dkt. No. 112. The Court found that the class met the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) and that certification under Rule 23(b)(2) was appropriate because “the party opposing the class has acted or refused to act on the grounds that apply generally to the class, so that final injunctive relief or corresponding declaratory relief is appropriate respecting the class as a whole . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(2).

         After further motion practice and discovery disputes, the parties participated in several settlement discussions with Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu. See Dkt. Nos. 199, 202, 203. On October 25, 2019, the parties settled and moved for preliminary approval of the Settlement Agreement. See Dkt. Nos. 210, 211. The Court granted preliminary approval of the Settlement Agreement on October 30, 2019. See Dkt. Nos. 217, 218.

         II. Settlement Agreement

         The parties' Settlement Agreement provides that:

1. USCIS will no longer require state courts to have the authority to place into custody or order reunification of a SIJ applicant with his or her parents in order to determine whether the reunification with one or both of their ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.