San Francisco Federal Court Litigation Attorneys

Federal Court Litigation often involves constitutional issues and class actions that have the ability to impact numerous lives for years to come.

Van Der Hout LLP in California has established a national reputation for successfully litigating immigration–related cases within the federal court system. A selection of our more notable cases includes:

American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee v. Reno, also known as the “Los Angeles Eight,” is a challenge to the government’s attempt to deport Palestinian activists based on their constitutionally protected political activity. As lead counsel since the case began in 1987, Marc Van Der Hout has litigated for the rights of immigrants to freedom of speech and freedom from selective enforcement of immigration laws. The L.A. Eight case involves the U. S. Government’s attempt to deport lawful immigrant Palestinian activists for their alleged support of lawful activities of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (“PFLP”) based on the PFLP having been deemed a terrorist organization. The L. A. Eight case became known as one of the most important civil rights cases in the 1990’s. Relevant to today, the case embodies the struggle between political freedom of expression and the U. S. Government’s claim that it must protect its security interests. The case has involved, among other things, attorney-client wiretaps under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”), attempts at indefinite detention and the use of secret evidence by the government.

American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee v. Reno : 914 F. Supp. 1060 (C.D. Cal. 1989) (declaratory judgment declaring unconstitutional ideological grounds of deportation under the McCarran Walter Act) (rev’d on other grounds, Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee v. Thornburgh, 940 F.2d 445 (9th Cir. 1991), as amended, 970 F.2d 501 (9th Cir. 1992)); American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee v. Reno, 70 F.3d 1045 (9th Cir. 1995) (enjoining deportation based on selective prosecution, holding aliens have same First Amendment rights as US citizens, and voiding on due process grounds use of classified information to deny immigration benefits); Reno v. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, 525 U.S. 471, 119 S.Ct 936 (1999)

American Baptist Churches (“ABC”) v. Meese, 712 F. Supp. 756 (N.D. CA 1989), 760 F. Supp. 786 (N.D.CA. 1991) sub nom American Baptist Churches et al. v. Thornburgh, is a national class-action lawsuit challenging the former Immigration and Naturalization Service’s (“INS”) discriminatory treatment of applicants for asylum from persons fleeing El Salvador and Guatemala. As a result, in part, of this litigation, Congress passed the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (“NACARA”) which affords permanent resident status to ABC class members from El Salvador or Guatemala.

Barahona v. Reno, is a class-action lawsuit challenging the Executive Office for Immigration Review’s (“EOIR”) directives which prohibited immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals from granting “suspension of deportation” during the period between February 13 and April 1, 1997. On April 1, 1997, a new law Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (“IIRIRA”) Pub. L. No. 104-208, 110 Stat. 3009 (Sept. 30, 1996), eliminated the availability of “suspension of deportation,” a form of permanent residency available for non-citizens who had, among other things, resided in the United States for a period of seven years. The EOIR issued a directive that immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals should not grant “suspension of deportation” between February and April 1, 1997, which was the effective date of the new law. However that directive was successfully challenged and found to be unlawful, and applicants who fell under the EOIR directive were given a new opportunity to apply for “suspension of deportation.”

Barahona, et al. v. Reno, et al., 67 F.3d 1228 (9th Cir. 1999); 243 F. Supp. 2d 1029 (N.D. Cal. 2002).

Magana-Pizano v. INS, is a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit challenging the retroactive application of the 1996 amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (Apr. 24, 1996) purported to eliminate habeas corpus jurisdiction from the federal courts and modified “section 212(c)” discretionary relief. This litigation affirmed the power of the federal courts’ to review final orders of deportation and affirmed that individuals who were placed into deportation proceedings prior to the change in law, and to those with convictions prior to the change in law, remained eligible for “section 212(c).” The U.S. Supreme Court later affirmed this same holding in INS v. St. Cyr, 533 U.S. 289 (2001).

Magana-Pizano v.INS, 200 F.3d 603 (9th Cir. 1999)

Castro-Cortez v. INS, is a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit challenging the “reinstatement of removal” provision implemented by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (“IIRIRA”) Pub. L. No. 104-208, 110 Stat. 3009 (Sept. 30, 1996). “Reinstatement of removal” applies to non-citizens who have been previously deported, and then seek to reenter or enter the United States unlawfully. When “reinstatement of removal” applies, an individual is not eligible for any relief from removal and is immediately deported. In Castro-Cortez the Ninth Circuit found that the new law imposed by IIRIRA does not apply to individuals who reentered the United States prior to the April 1, 1997 effective of IIRIRA. Unfortunately, this case was later effectively overturned by the Supreme Court in 2006, in Fernandez-Vargas v INS.

Castro-Cortez v. INS, 239 F.3d 1037 (9th Cir. 2001)

Araujo v. INS, is a Federal Torts Claim Act case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The Court applied the Castro-Cortez decision listed above and concluded that because Castro-Cortez held that it was unlawful to apply the “reinstatement of removal” provision to people who reentered the United States prior to April 1, 1997, the government could not argue in a separate Federal Torts Claim Act suit that the deportation at issue in Castro-Cortez was lawful. The Court applied legal principles of “collateral estoppel” and found the government was liable for the tort of “unlawful imprisonment.”.

Araujo v. INS, 301 F. Supp. 2d 1095 (N.D. Cal. 2004)

Arreola-Arreola v. Ashcroft, is a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit challenging the “reinstatement of removal” provision discussed above. In this case, the court found that if an individual is subject to reinstatement of removal, the Constitution requires that they have the opportunity to contest a prior order of removal before being deported a second time based on that order.

Arreola-Arreola v. Ashcroft, 383 F.3d 956 (9th Cir. 2004)

Lujan-Armendariz v. INS, is a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit holding that the dismissal of criminal case under a state rehabilitative statute analogous to the Federal First Offenders Act eliminates the immigration consequences of a single offense of simple possession of a controlled substance.

Lujan-Armendariz v. INS, 222 F.3d 728 (9th Cir. 2000)

Cunanan v. INS, is a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit which successfully challenged the use of hearsay statements to deport or deny relief to aliens in deportations proceedings. The Court determined that the use of such out of court statements without the right to cross-examine the declarants violates due process.

Cunanan v. INS, 856 F.2d 1373 (9th Cir. 1988)

Zavala v. Ridge, is a successful challenge to the Department of Homeland Security’s (“DHS”) “automatic stay” regulation before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The “automatic stay” regulation purports to allow the DHS to keep individuals in custody while their immigration cases are pending, even after an immigration judge has ordered their release. The District Court found that the regulation was facially unconstitutional and that it exceeded the authority conferred upon the DHS by Congress.

Zavala v. Ridge, 310 F. Supp. 2d 1071 (N.D. Cal. 2004)

Attorneys’ Fees Litigation

Van Der Hout LLP is nationally recognized as one of the leaders in seeking compensation for attorneys’ fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act in successful suits against the government. Marc Van Der Hout successfully litigated the first court of appeals case to establish attorneys’ fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act immigration cases. Escobar-Ruiz v. INS, 838 F.2d 1090 (9th Cir. 1988) (en banc decision establishing the right to attorney’s fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act for immigration proceedings — subsequently overruled, in part, by the Supreme Court in different litigation).

Administrative Appeals

Once the Department of Homeland Security or an Immigration Judge has rendered a decision, there may be an administrative appeal to the Administrative Appeals Office (“AAO”) of the Department of Homeland Security or the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) of the Department of Justice. Van Der Hout LLP is highly experienced in representing individuals before both the AAO and the BIA.

Contacting Our Bay Area Law Offices

For more information or to discuss a specific immigration-related concern you have — call us at 415-981-3000 or contact us via email at our California law offices to schedule an appointment. Initial consultations with a lawyer are provided at a rate discounted from our standard fee.