Mcnary v. Haitian Refugee Center, Inc.

498 U.S. 479 (1991)


The Reform Act provided three important benefits to an applicant for SAW status; the alien was entitled to a work authorization permit valid for the time the application was being processed, the Government could not use any of the information in the application for enforcement purposes, and if SAW status was granted the alien became a lawful temporary resident and could in due course obtain permanent residence. To help the program and to alleviate fears among the alien communities, the government enlisted the aid of private entities to help assure them of the terms of the program and that they would be honored. A special Legalization Office (LO) was created, and regulations adopted provided for a personal interview of each applicant at an LO. The alien had to prove by a preponderance of evidence that he had worked the requisite 90 days, by evidence independent of his own testimony. The burden could be satisfied through payroll records or affidavits. The LO would then pass judgment on the application, and a denial could be appealed to a legalization appeals unit, which was authorized to make the final administrative decision in each individual case. The Act prohibited judicial review of this final administrative determination except as authorized by section 210(e)(3)(A). Under that section, judicial review was permitted of such a denial only in the judicial review of an order or exclusion or deportation. As such only appeals courts could hear such cases as district courts were not permitted under 8 U.S.C. section 1105a to review deportation orders. Ps filed suit against INS for its administration of the SAW program. They alleged that the interview process was conducted in an arbitrary fashion denying Ps of due process under the Fifth Amendment. Ps alleged that applicants were not being appraised of adverse evidence or even given an opportunity to challenge such evidence, that applicants were denied the opportunity to present witnesses on their own behalf and that non-English speaking applicants we unable to communicate with LOs because competent interpreters were not provided and that no verbatim record of the interview was made thus inhibiting any meaningful administrative review. The District Court ruled that is had jurisdiction and the case could proceed as a class action, and a preliminary injunction should issue. The District Court reasoned that the complaint did not challenge any individual determination but only the procedural aspects of the process employed. The District Court ruled that a number of the procedures violated the Reform Act and were unconstitutional and entered an injunction requiring the INS to vacate a large number of denials and to modify its practices. The Court of Appeals affirmed.