A coalition of religious and refugee assistance organization filed suit to challenge the federal government’s denial of asylum applications from Salvadorans and Guatemalans fleeing violence in their homelands during the 1980s. Under the Reagan administration, the asylum seekers were largely categorized as “economic refugees” and provided no consideration of the political upheavals that they had fled. Widespread protests ensued and led to the modern sanctuary movement. These pressures produced the out-of-court ABC settlement which permitted certain applicants to have their cases re-evaluated if they had arrived before 1990. In the meanwhile, they were permitted stays of deportation (removal) and could be detained only if they had been committed of a “crime involving moral turpitude” and received a jail sentence of more than 6 months or posed a risk to national security or public safety. Many Guatemalans and Salvadorans were able to regularize their statuses through the new procedures.
AMERICAN BAPTIST CHURCHES, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Richard THORNBURGH, et al., Defendants.
Civ. No. C-85-3255-RFP.
United States District Court, N.D. California.January 31, 1991.
WHEREAS, Plaintiffs, many Salvadoran and Guatemalan citizens in the United States, have filed this action against Defendants, Richard L. Thornburgh, on behalf of the United States Department of Justice, Gene McNary, on behalf of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (“INS”), and James A. Baker, III, on behalf of the United States Department of State, raising, among other issues, systemic challenges to the processing of asylum claims filed by Salvadorans and Guatemalans pursuant to the Refugee Act of 1980 and the regulations promulgated thereunder; and
WHEREAS, the system of asylum processing has been significantly changed by regulations effective October 1, 1990; and
WHEREAS, under the new asylum regulations as well as the old:
foreign policy and border enforcement considerations are not relevant to the determination of whether an applicant for asylum has a well-founded fear of persecution;
the fact that an individual is from a country whose government the United States supports or with which it has favorable relations is not relevant to the determination of whether an applicant for asylum has a well-founded fear of persecution;
whether or not the United States Government agrees with the political or ideological beliefs of the individual is not relevant to the determination of whether an applicant for asylum has a well-founded fear of persecution;
the same standard for determining whether or not an applicant has a well-founded fear of persecution applies to Salvadorans and Guatemalans as applies to all other nationalities; and
WHEREAS, Section 302 of the Immigration Act of 1990, Pub.L. No. 101-649, to be codified at § 244A of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1254a, amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to authorize the Attorney General to designate any foreign state (or any part thereof) so as to give Temporary Protected Status to nationals of such state; and
WHEREAS, Section 303 of the Immigration Act of 1990 designates El Salvador under INA Section 244A and thereby entitles Salvadorans who meet the requirements of Section 303 to Temporary Protected Status; and
WHEREAS, Plaintiffs and Defendants believe that it is in their best interests to settle this action by establishing the practices and procedures set forth below;
THEREFORE, Plaintiffs and Defendants enter into and stipulate that this agreement imposes binding obligations on the parties and their successors and that this agreement constitutes a full and complete resolution of the issues raised in this action.