Another Limit on Federal Court Jurisdiction? Immigrant Access to Class-Wide Injunctive Relief


Jill E. Family


This article examines a statute that may embody another limit on the power of the federal courts. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) implemented sweeping changes that substantially restrict federal court review of administrative immigration decisions. One provision implemented as a part of IIRIRA, 8 U.S.C. § 1252(f)(1), appears, at least at first glance, to prohibit courts from issuing class-wide injunctive relief in immigration cases. Such a restriction would be significant because federal courts have issued class-wide injunctions in the past to stop unconstitutional immigration practices and policies of the federal government. The Supreme Court has not yet directly interpreted section 1252(f)(1). Taking a closer look at the text of this provision in the context of relevant Supreme Court precedent, this article suggests that the provision may not impose a broad bar against the use of class-wide injunctive relief in the immigration context. In addition, if the Court interprets this provision to broadly restrict class-wide injunctive relief, this article examines whether habeas corpus jurisdiction may provide an alternative means to obtain such relief. Ultimately, resolution of the effect of this provision will implicate the ongoing scholarly debate over the constitutionality and propriety of congressional restrictions of federal court review.


Administrative Law | Civil Rights and Discrimination | Constitutional Law | Immigration Law | Jurisdiction | Litigation

Date of this Version

August 2004