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Update from AILF on Asylee Adjustment Class Action

Monday, August 11, 2003

  • Organization: Lawyers Committee for Human Rights



In response to the class action lawsuit Ngwanyia v. Ashcroft, No. 02-CV-502 (D. Minn.), the BCIS has begun approving a larger number of asylee adjustment applications than in prior years. From an all-time low of 2,532 asylee adjustments in 1999, the agency adjusted 9,713 asylees in FY 2002. The Nebraska Service Center (NSC), which handles asylee adjustment applications, recently announced that it has shifted additional resources to asylee adjustment cases for the remainder of this fiscal year. See NSC Update on I-485s, I-765s and I-131s, posted on AILA InfoNet at Doc. No. 03073141 (July 31, 2003). This shift in resources is a clear effort by the agency to increase the number of asylee adjustment applications that it approves before the end of the fiscal year. It reflects a demand by the Ngwanyia Plaintiffs that the agency actually use the full 10,000 asylee adjustment slots that were set-aside by the President in FY 2003, which ends September 30, 2003.

In Ngwanyia v. Ashcroft, more than 50 asylees sued the former INS over its failure to properly administer the asylee adjustment program. The Court has certified a class of all asylees with pending adjustment applications. In addition to insuring that all 10,000 asylee adjustment slots are actually used each year, the plaintiffs also are demanding that the agency use 22,000 asylee adjustment slots that were set aside but never used in past years. The Plaintiffs, represented by the American Immigration Law Foundation (AILF), the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, and the law firm of Dorsey and Whitney, served the government with a motion for summary judgment last week, in which we ask the Court to order the Defendants to use these additional 22,000 numbers to reduce the backlog of more than 120,000 asylees.

In addition, we are encouraged by reports that a bill eliminating the 10,000 annual cap on asylee adjustments has a chance of passing this year. We urge all asylees and their attorneys to contact their members of Congress to urge them to support elimination of the cap on asylee adjustments. For more information about any aspect of the asylee adjustment case, please contact Luke Hall, the AILF Legal Action Center Legal Assistant at or Mary Kenney, LAC staff attorney at


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