In November 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington granted preliminary approval to a proposed settlement agreement submitted by noncitizens and the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (“ICE”) in the case, Padilla v. ICE.
The lawsuit was initially filed on June 25, 2018, for two main reasons:
- Credible fear interviews for noncitizens detained in expedited removal proceedings are unreasonably delayed, and
- Noncitizens who were found to have a credible fear of returning to their country of origin, were not provided with timely bond hearings.
In March of 2019, the District Court permitted the Plaintiffs’ claims to go forward, certifying two classes:
- Credible Fear Class, and
- Bond Class.
Credible Fear Interview Class Members ONLY: This refers to all detained asylum seekers in the United States subject to expedited removal proceedings, who are not provided a credible fear determination within ten days of: (1) requesting asylum or expressing a fear of persecution to a DHS official; or (2) the conclusion of any criminal proceeding related to the circumstances of their entry, absent a request by the asylum seeker for a delayed credible fear interview.
The settlement agreement pertains only to the Credible Fear Class, not to the Bond Class (that class is still litigating their case). The settlement requires the government to refer a Credible Fear Class member for an interview with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) within 7 business days and to complete the interview within 60 days. If more than 60 days elapse, the noncitizen will be issued a Notice to Appear (“NTA”) and placed in removal proceedings. The agreement shall last for 4 years from the effective date.
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