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Judge Keeps Asylum-Seekers’ Claims in Federal Court

A federal judge refused the government’s request to throw out a class action brought by thousands of asylum-seekers who say immigration authorities didn’t inform them of a one-year deadline for filing asylum claims and erected procedural roadblocks.

SEATTLE (CN) – A federal judge refused the government’s request to throw out a class action brought by thousands of asylum-seekers who say immigration authorities didn’t inform them of a one-year deadline for filing asylum claims and erected procedural roadblocks.

U.S. District Chief Judge Ricardo Martinez said the asylum-seekers’ claims should be heard in federal court, not immigration court as the government requested.

“Plaintiffs are not asking this court to make any finding with respect to how immigration judges analyze the extraordinary circumstances exception or on the asylum applications themselves. Rather, they allege that defendants’ action or inactions have deprived them of a statutory right to apply for asylum by foreclosing their opportunity to apply within the one year statutory time period,” Martinez wrote in the 4-page order.

Four named plaintiffs, refugees from Central and South America and the Caribbean, filed their due-process class action last year. They claim immigration agents never told them they had to file for asylum within one year after they entered the United States, and did not present the asylum-seekers with a viable path for meeting that deadline.

Martinez granted class status to the group in January.

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