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Case Name Samma v. United States Department of Defense IM-DC-0074
Docket / Court 1:20-cv-01104 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Presidential/Gubernatorial Authority
Attorney Organization ACLU Affiliates (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU of Southern California
Case Summary
The Immigration and Nationality Act provides an expedited path to citizenship for non-citizens serving in the U.S. military. In 2017, President Trump’s Secretary of Defense implemented a new internal policy which made the expedited naturalization process lengthier and more difficult. Objecting ... read more >
The Immigration and Nationality Act provides an expedited path to citizenship for non-citizens serving in the U.S. military. In 2017, President Trump’s Secretary of Defense implemented a new internal policy which made the expedited naturalization process lengthier and more difficult. Objecting to this new policy, 6 non-citizen service members, represented by the ACLU, ACLU of Southern California, and ACLU of the District of Columbia, filed this class action against the Secretary and Department of Defense on April 28, 2020. The complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and assigned to Judge Ellen S. Huvelle, alleged that the Department’s policy violated both the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. §§553, 706) and the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. §1440). They sought a declaration (under 28 U.S.C. §§2201-2202) that the Department’s policy was illegal, and injunctive relief (under 5 U.S.C. §702) preventing the Department from implementing the new policy.

The plaintiffs alleged that de-expedited naturalization process injured them in several ways, including: ineligibility for promotion to military positions available to citizens; denial of access to consular services while deployed overseas; and inability to sponsor family members seeking to immigrate.

The plaintiffs sought certification as a class of “All individuals who:
(a) are non-citizens serving honorably in the U.S. military;
(b) have requested but not received a certified [Department of Defense] Form N-426; and
(c) are not…covered by [Kirwa v. U.S. Dep’t of Def., 285 F. Supp. 3d 21 (D.D.C. 2017)].”

Along with the complaint, the plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction, which was later converted into a motion for summary judgment, and a motion for class certification.

On August 4, 2020, the plaintiff’s motion for class certification was granted and on August 25, 2020, the Court granted the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and ordered injunctive relief for the class. The order for summary vacated the Minimum Service Requirements in the N-426 Policy and enjoined defendants from withholding certified Form N-426s from any class member based on a failure to complete the Minimum Service Requirements. 486 F.Supp.3d 240.

The Department of Defense filed a motion for appeal with the D.C. Circuit Court on October 23, 2020 (USCA Case Number 20-5320). On June 29, 2021, the parties asked the court of appeals to hold the case in abeyance pending further proceedings within the agency. As of October 13, 2021, the case is still in abeyance.

Gregory Marsh - 06/08/2020
Richard Cantoral - 10/11/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Immigration/Border
Status/Classification
U.S. citizenship - acquiring
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.
Defendant(s) United States Department of Defense
Plaintiff Description 6 foreign nationals serving in the U.S. Military, who are seeking to naturalize under the expedited military naturalization provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Affiliates (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU of Southern California
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2020 - n/a
Filed 04/28/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Samma v. Department of Defense - Lawsuit Challenging Policy Denying U.S. Military Service Members Expedited Path to Citizenship
https://www.aclu.org
Date: Jun. 8, 2020
By: American Civil Liberties Union
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
D.D.C.
09/22/2021
1:20-cv-01104
IM-DC-0074-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D.D.C.
04/28/2020
Complaint [ECF# 1]
IM-DC-0074-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.D.C.
06/08/2020
Amended Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 24]
IM-DC-0074-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.D.C.
08/04/2020
Order [ECF# 44]
IM-DC-0074-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.D.C.
08/04/2020
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 45] (2020 WL 4501000)
IM-DC-0074-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.D.C.
08/25/2020
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 46] (486 F.Supp.3d 240)
IM-DC-0074-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.D.C.
08/25/2020
Order and Judgment [ECF# 47]
IM-DC-0074-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Friedman, Paul L. (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0074-9000
Huvelle, Ellen Segal (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0074-0003 | IM-DC-0074-0004 | IM-DC-0074-0005 | IM-DC-0074-0006 | IM-DC-0074-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Cho, Michelle (California) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0074-0001 | IM-DC-0074-0002
Hafetz, Jonathan L. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0074-0001 | IM-DC-0074-0002 | IM-DC-0074-9000
Kaufman, Brett Max (New York) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0074-0001 | IM-DC-0074-0002 | IM-DC-0074-9000
Kim, Scarlet (New York) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0074-0001 | IM-DC-0074-0002 | IM-DC-0074-9000
Mayat, Sana (New York) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0074-9000
Pasquarella, Jennifer (California) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0074-0001 | IM-DC-0074-0002
Spitzer, Arthur (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0074-0001 | IM-DC-0074-0002 | IM-DC-0074-9000
Zafar, Noor (New York) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0074-0001 | IM-DC-0074-0002 | IM-DC-0074-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Holland, Liam (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0074-9000
Swinton, Nathan Michael (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0074-9000

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