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W.A.O. v. Cuccinelli

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 17, 2019

W.A.O., H.H.M.C., N.L.J., and K.M.R.L., on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
KENNETH T. CUCCINELLI II, Acting Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; KEVIN McALEENAN, Acting Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; ROBERT COWAN, Director, National Benefits Center, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY; and UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES, Defendants.

          CLASS CERTIFICATION ORDER

          Hon. Madeline Cox Arleo, United States District Judge

         This matter having come before the Court on the motion of W.A.O., H.H.M.C., N.L.J., and K.M.R.L., individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated (collectively, "Plaintiffs"), for class certification and appointment of class counsel pursuant to Rules 23(a), (b)(2), and (g) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the Court having considered the filings and arguments in support thereof, and Defendants having consented thereto, and for good cause shown, the Court finds as follows:

         Findings of Fact

         1. Plaintiffs are individuals who were between the ages of 18 and 21 when they obtained orders from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part (the "Family Part") making the child welfare findings necessary for Special Immigrant Juvenile ("SIJ") classification.

         2. Based on such Family Part orders, Plaintiffs applied for SIJ classification when they were between their 18th and 21st birthdays.

         3. Plaintiffs filed a Complaint alleging that Defendants have adopted and implemented a policy that disqualified SIJ applicants who obtained Family Part orders when they were between 18 and 21 years old on the grounds that: (1) the Family Part must have jurisdiction to make the required child welfare findings; and (2) the Family Part lacked such jurisdiction as to petitioners in this age group (the "Policy").

         4. This alleged Policy resulted in the rejection of SIJ petitions filed by juveniles in New Jersey who were between 18 and 21 years old when the Family Part issued their orders. Plaintiffs' SIJ applications were delayed, questioned, or denied because of Defendants' alleged Policy. Putative class members also had their SIJ petitions delayed, questioned, or denied, or their SIJ classifications revoked, under the alleged Policy.

         5. The putative class consists of hundreds of juveniles who do not have the means to bring individual federal lawsuits challenging Defendants' alleged Policy.

         6. Plaintiffs' Complaint seeks classwide relief to permanently and preliminarily enjoin Defendants from delaying, questioning, denying, or revoking SIJ petitions on the ground that the New Jersey Family Part does not have the jurisdiction, power, or authority to make the required child welfare findings for a juvenile between the ages of 18 and 21.

         7. Plaintiffs' Complaint seeks further classwide relief to permanently and preliminarily enjoin Defendants to: 1) rescind alleged improper denials or revocations of Plaintiffs' and putative class members' SIJ petitions; 2) reopen their petitions; and 3) readjudicate their petitions without relying on any requirement or policy declared invalid in this case.

         8. Plaintiffs' counsel represents that Lowenstein Sandler LLP has extensive experience handling class action litigation and complex immigration cases, including those related to SIJ classification. Plaintiffs' counsel represents that the firm has no interests that are in conflict with the putative class and has committed to representing the class on a pro bono basis.

         Conclusions of Law A. Numerosity

         9. The numerosity requirement of Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a)(1) is satisfied. The Third Circuit has generally held that "if the named plaintiff demonstrates that the potential number of plaintiffs exceeds 40, the first prong of Rule 23(a) has been met." Stewart v. Abraham, 21S F.3d 220, 226-27 (3d Cir. 2001). In this case, Plaintiffs have established that there are more than 100 members of the putative class, and Defendants have identified additional members of the putative class.

         B. ...


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