Federal Court: ‘Asylum Seekers’ Who Failed to File Within a Year Still Have Standing to Sue

Refugees-APRick Rycroft
AP/Rick Rycroft

United States District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez refused to dismiss a class-action lawsuit by aliens who missed their one-year deadline to apply for asylum in the United States Wednesday, allowing the case to proceed.

The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle, involves four named plaintiffs certified to represent a class of potentially tens of thousands of foreigners who, after an initial determination on their arrival in the United States that they may be subject to persecution in their home countries, were not told they had only a year in which to formally file for asylum status.

The Department of Homeland Security had sought to dismiss the case on the grounds that, because none of the plaintiffs have actually been denied asylum, they had suffered no injury and, therefore, lacked standing to sue. The government also argued the district court lacked jurisdiction because this was a matter for the immigration system that should be decided by an immigration judge and only then appealed directly to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Judge Martinez, an appointee of President George W. Bush, denied both of the government’s arguments, holding that the alien plaintiffs are allowed to pursue their claim immediately.

Martinez ruled that, although none of the named plaintiffs were denied asylum in the U.S., the mere fact they were not told about the deadline affected their legal rights sufficiently to allow them to sue. “Plaintiffs are not challenging any denial, past or future, of asylum … Rather,they challenge the denial of an opportunity to apply within the one-year deadline, which they allege is caused by [the Government’s] failure to provide adequate notice of the deadline,” Wednesday’s order read.

The fact that the alien plaintiffs still are able to petition an immigration judge for the right to apply for asylum after the deadline had passed was not enough to dismiss their assertion that they have been injured by the government’s failure to warn them of the time limit. “If Plaintiffs’ allegations are true, they have lost the statutory right to apply for asylum and must now depend on the discretion of an adjudicator to apply,” Matinez’s order explains.

The Court also came down against the government’s jurisdictional argument, ruling that the lawsuit can proceed in district court because plaintiffs claim is that not being told about the deadline “foreclosed” their opportunity to pursue normal channels.

This lawsuit, Mendez-Rojas v. Johnson, was initiated by a bevy of non-governmental organizations including the American Immigration Council and the National Lawyers Guild, groups financially linked to open-borders leftist billionaire George Soros. It was certified as a class-action in January, meaning it could affect the ability of potentially tens of thousands of aliens in the U.S. who were not specifically told by the Department of Homeland Security about the one-year deadline to apply for asylum.

Nothing in Wednesday’s ruling on the government’s motion to dismiss concerned the actual merits of the case. It will now proceed to trial in Judge Martinez’s courtroom.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.