This lawsuit is one of several cases arising from immigration raids conducted by federal authorities at Swift meat packing plants across the country. (See Valenzuela v. Swift Beef Company, Inc., No. 3:06−cv−02322−N (N.D. Tex.) [IM-TX-0019], and Swift & Company v. ICE, No. 2:06-cv-00314 (N.D. Tex.) [IM-TX-0020]).
In this case, which was filed on September 12, 2007, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and several U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents sued the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, challenging the Swift raids. Plaintiffs alleged that on December 12, 2006, federal immigration authorities raided six Swift plants and swept up about 12,000 meatpacking workers, thousands of which were Union members. Plaintiffs alleged that the warrantless raids were unlawful in that groups of workers were herded up and detained without any reasonable suspicion that the workers were aliens in violation of federal immigration law. Detained workers were not allowed to retrieve their immigration papers or speak to Union attorneys, and some were taken away without the chance to make arrangements for their children to be picked up from school or daycare.
The Union and individual members argued that the raids violated the Immigration and Nationality Act and deprived members of their Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. Plaintiffs were represented by the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, union attorneys, and private counsel.
On September 12, 2007, plaintiffs moved to certify a class of “all persons subjected to group detention without warrant or a reasonable suspicion based upon articulable facts that they are immigrants unlawfully present in the United States in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act during work-place enforcement activities conducted by [ICE] agents.” Two months later, on November 13, 2007, defendants moved to dismiss.
After the Court (Judge Mary Lou Robinson) on March 25, 2008, denied a motion by more than thirty groups for leave to appear and file amicus briefs, there is an unexplained yearlong gap in the docket with no activity listed.
The next docket entry is on March 4, 2009, where the Court (Judge Robinson) denied plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, finding that the proposed class was too vague to be supportable. Later in the year, on September 16, the Court (Judge Robinson) converted defendants’ motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment, and invited the parties to submit briefs and any additional evidence.
Following several extensions and a discovery dispute, ending in the Court granting the defendants a protective order pending a ruling on defendants’ qualified immunity, on March 11, 2011, the Court (Judge Robinson) granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. United Food and Commercial Workers International Union v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 2011 WL 856937 (N.D. Tex. Mar. 11, 2011). The Court found that the Union lacked standing to bring suit, and that the individual plaintiffs lacked standing to claim injunctive relief, as a future invasion of a legally protected interest was unlikely. As to the individual plaintiffs’ claims for damages, the Court granted summary judgment to the defendants on plaintiffs’ unlawful detention claim because it found that ICE had acted reasonably in detaining them, on plaintiffs’ access to counsel claim because their Sixth Amendment right to counsel had not attached and because there is no civil action for violation of Miranda rights, and on plaintiffs’ childcare claim because it found that the amount of time plaintiffs were denied the ability to make arrangements for their children “was not disproportionate to what was reasonably necessary to process the large number of aliens detained.”
The Court entered judgment for the defendants the same day, and ordered that plaintiffs pay defendants' attorneys fees.Christopher Schad - 06/11/2012