New Settlement Agreement Opens Door for Certain Asylum Applications After One Year

To qualify for asylum, an applicant must file within one year of having arrived to the United States. If an applicant does not file within one year of having arrived to the United States, they do not qualify for asylum. Some exceptions can be made, but only rarely.

Unfortunately, many noncitizens who arrive to the United States and tell border officials they are afraid are not adequately informed that they only have one-year to file for asylum. A class action lawsuit was filed on June 30, 2016 in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. against the Government for failure to inform some of these people. The case was know as the Mendez Rojas class action.

In March 2018, the judge presiding over this case determined that the Government had failed to provide class members with adequate notice of the one-year filing deadline for asylum applications, and thereby had violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), governing regulations, and due process. The judge subsequently ordered the Government to begin accepting asylum applications from class members, notwithstanding the one-year deadline, within 90 days of the order. Mendez Rojas v. Johnson, 305 F.Supp.3d 1176 (W.D. Wash. Mar. 29, 2018).

Although the Government appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit, a proposed settlement agreement was reached last month. Under the agreement, the Government agreed that it “will accept as timely filed any asylum application from a Class member that was filed or is filed on or before March 31, 2022, irrespective of the one-year deadline”.

The agreement also provides a more narrow definition for those class members already in removal proceedings. To be considered members of the class, they must have been issued Notices to Appears (NTAs) and/or been in removal proceedings on or after June 30, 2016 to benefit.

Among other things, the Government also agreed to mail out individual notices to other potential class members and to include clearer language about the asylum process in future documents given to potential asylum seekers.

The District Court for the Western District of Washington has scheduled a fairness hearing for November 4, 2020, and class members have until September 21, 2020 to file objections to the proposed settlement agreement.

Click here to see the settlement agreement.

Please contact Blaszkow Legal today to see if you qualify as a Mendez Rojas class member - 703-879-5910.

¡Hablamos español!