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Zambrano (Zambrano v. I.N.S.) was a class action case that lasted from 1988 to 2002 in which the plaintiffs, undocumented aliens, challenged I.N.S. regulations, arguing they unduly restrict the eligibility of undocumented aliens who might become eligible for government aid programs noted in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. In 1993, Zambrano reached the U.S. Supreme Court which remanded the case. I.N.S. v. Zambrano, 509 U.S. 918 (1993). Ultimately, the plaintiffs’ claims were dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and other impediments after a complex set of litigation, moving multiple times between the district court, appellate court, and Supreme Court.

Zambrano, Catholic Social Services, Inc. v. Reno, and other immigration cases led to the passing of Section 1104 of the LIFE Act after backlash over the results of the class action cases. The Act allowed some immigrants involved in Zambrano and the other listed class actions to qualify for permanent resident status if they entered the U.S. before 1982 and met other requirements. 

To see the case history of Zambrano, click here

[Last updated in April of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]