REEVES & ASSOCIATES SUES ON BEHALF OF NATURALIZED FILIPINOS TO IMMIGRATE THEIR CHILDREN

Reeves & Associates has filed two lawsuits against the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the State Department, to compel the defendants to re-classify the immigrant visa petitions of unmarried sons and daughters of naturalized United States citizens under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA). The first lawsuit, Maniago v. Chertoff, Case No. CV06-3768 MRP (JCx), was filed in the federal district court in Los Angeles on June 15, 2006. Judge Mariana R. Pfaelzer, a federal district judge in Los Angeles, will preside over the Maniago case. The second lawsuit, Mangoba v. Chertoff, was filed in the federal district court in San Francisco on June 16, 2006.

Both lawsuits concern benefits given to unmarried adult sons and daughters of United States citizens under CSPA. Congress enacted CSPA in 2002 to preserve the opportunity for unmarried children of lawful permanent residents or United States citizens to join their families in the United States, and to eliminate significant delays in issuing immigrant visas to them. One of CSPA’s provisions allows for unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents, under section 203(a)(2) of the INA, to be treated as unmarried sons and daughters of United States citizens, under INA 203(a)(1), if their parents became naturalized citizens. For unmarried sons and daughters from most countries around the world, being treated as an unmarried son or daughter of a citizen, for immigrant visa purposes, eliminates years of delay in getting an immigrant visa. For unmarried sons and daughters from the Philippines, however, being treated as an unmarried son or daughter of a citizen can delay the federal government from issuing an immigrant visa for up to five years, because there are less immigrant visas available for people in that visa category.

Congress tried to resolve that problem in CSPA by allowing unmarried sons and daughters of newly naturalized United States citizens to opt out of the conversion of their immigrant visa category, and to be re-classified as unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents for immigrant visa purposes, as if their parents’ naturalization had never taken place. However, the federal government has consistently ignored the intent of Congress, and has refused unmarried sons and daughters’ requests to opt out of the conversion of their visa category, because their parents petitioned for them to come to the United States while they were under twenty-one years of age.

In September of 2004, Reeves & Associates filed suit against the federal government, to force federal immigration officials to honor the requests for re-classification of the immigrant visa category for unmarried sons and daughters of newly naturalized United States citizens under CSPA. That suit, Maniago v. Neufeld, Case No. CV 04-7981, was filed in the federal district court in Los Angeles, on behalf of sixteen parents who had petitioned for their unmarried sons and daughters to come to the United States. Reeves & Associates settled that lawsuit with the federal government, after the federal agency defendants agreed to grant requests for re-classification of the immigrant visa categories for the unmarried sons and daughters of the plaintiffs. Despite the settlement, however, the agencies that process immigrant visa applications, the United States Department of Homeland Security and the State Department, have refused numerous requests by unmarried sons and daughters to re-classify their immigrant visa category, and to eliminate years of delay in allowing them to come to the United States.

Due to the federal government’s misinterpretation of CSPA’s “opt out” provision, Reeves & Associates has filed suit again, to ensure that the federal government abides by the intent of Congress, when it processes immigrant visa applications for unmarried sons and daughters of naturalized United States citizens. In the lawsuit, Reeves & Associates charges the federal defendants with misinterpreting CSPA, to preclude certain unmarried sons and daughters of citizens from re-classifying their immigrant visa preference category. Reeves & Associates has also filed a petition for writ of mandamus, to compel the federal defendants to perform their non-discretionary duty to honor the plaintiffs’ requests for re-classification of their immigrant visa category. Reeves & Associates raised, as well, a number of claims under the Administrative Procedure Act. By filing suit again, Reeves & Associates hopes to bring into existence a new nationwide policy for re-classification of the immigrant visa categories for unmarried sons and daughters of United States citizens, regardless of their ages when their parents petitioned for them to come to this country.