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Case Name Castro v. Freeman IM-TX-0033
Docket / Court 1:09-cv-00208 ( S.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Immigration
Case Summary
On September 7, 2009, U.S. citizens who were detained when crossing from Mexico into Texas filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas against the Department of State (DOS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) challenging the procedures used by the Customs ... read more >
On September 7, 2009, U.S. citizens who were detained when crossing from Mexico into Texas filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas against the Department of State (DOS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) challenging the procedures used by the Customs and Border Protections (CBP). Plaintiffs, represented by attorneys from the Refugio del Rio Grande and Jones & Crane, claimed that the procedures violated their due process rights. Plaintiffs initially filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus and a class action complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief.

The original claims arose from the detention of the Castro family at the border. Laura and Nancy Castro were born in the United States. Their mother, a Mexican citizen, later took them to Mexico and registered them as born in Mexico so that the girls could attend school in Mexico. When the women attempted to cross the border 20 years later with a U.S. passport and U.S. birth certificate respectively, they were detained and interrogated. The case was filed while they were still being held at the port of entry.

In the course of several amended complaints, plaintiffs added six additional plaintiffs and multiple additional claims challenging the policies of both DOS and CBP. The Third Amended Complaint by ten individuals included habeas claims, requests for declaratory and injunctive relief, requests for declaration of citizenship, and claims of violations of the Federal Torts Claims Act. Plaintiffs also added a Bivens claim for monetary damages on behalf of the original plaintiffs. On April 26, 2011, the court (Judge Hilda G. Tagle) severed the FTCA and Bivens claims from the rest of the case. The court also severed plaintiffs' citizenship claims to be separate cases.

In the April 26 order, the court ruled on several other motions. It dismissed plaintiffs' claims for unreasonable delay in adjudication. It also dismissed plaintiffs' claims for relief under 8 USC 1503 where plaintiffs had already received their passports. The court also denied plaintiffs' motion for class certification as moot, but allowed leave to refile.

On June 11, 2011 plaintiffs filed their fourth amended complaint. The claims were: (1) violations of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments and the APA in conjunction with jurisdiction under the Mandamus Act for improperly applying the preponderance of the evidence standard in adjudicating passport applications; (2) violations of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments in failing to provide due process in adjudicating passport applications, revoking passports based on non-nationality, hearings for passports denied or revoked; (3) violations of the Equal Protection Clause for denying and revoking passports based on non-nationality; and (4) violations of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments and the U.N. Convention Against Torture and the Federal Detainee Act of 2005 due to mistreatment of persons at the border claiming to be U.S. citizens as well as (5) their parents.

On June 27, 2011, plaintiffs re-filed their motion to certify a class requesting that the court certify two classes.

On November 22, 2011, the court ruled on defendants' motion to dismiss. Most claims were dismissed. The only claims that remained were claims 1 pursuant to the Fifth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, and Mandamus Act and claim 4 under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment. The court, therefore, denied the motion for class certification as moot.

On December 7, 2012, the court ruled on defendants' motions to dismiss the remaining claims. The court granted in part, and denied in part, allowing the claims to go forward with respect to certain named plaintiffs.

On March 13, 2013, the plaintiffs filed another motion for class certification.

On September 30, 2013, plaintiffs filed their fifth and currently last amended complaint. At this point, the case has come to center on the standard of proof applied by DOS in adjudicating U.S. citizenship claims and the agency's failure to afford U.S. citizenship claimants any meaningful opportunity to challenge its decisions to deny a U.S. passport application or revoke an existing passport. Specifically, plaintiffs allege that DOS made arbitrary requests for documents and asked for irrelevant personal information when deciding whether to issue passports. Plaintiffs argue that DOS practices violate their due process rights. They continue to request class certification and declaratory and injunctive relief.

On October 31, 2013, defendants filed a motion to dismiss the claims in plaintiffs' amended complaint. As of November 18, 2013, that motion is still pending before the court.

Jennifer Bronson - 11/18/2013


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Habeas Corpus
Over/Unlawful Detention
Immigration
Admission - procedure
Border police
Constitutional rights
Convention against Torture
Detention - conditions
Detention - procedures
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.
Mandamus, 28 U.S.C. § 1361
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.
Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. § 2674
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Bivens
Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Defendant(s) Customs and Border Protection
Department of State
Plaintiff Description U.S. citizens detained at the border
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Threats to the Future of the Immigration Class Action
Washington University Journal of Law and Policy
By: Jill E. Family (Widener University School of Law)
Citation: 27 Wash. U. J.L. & Pol'y 71 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:09-cv-208 (S.D. Tex.) 10/09/2013
IM-TX-0033-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Motion for Preliminary Injunction 09/07/2009
IM-TX-0033-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Opposed First Motion for Class Certification 04/18/2011
IM-TX-0033-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 04/26/2011 (S.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0033-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 11/22/2011 (2011 WL 11535494) (S.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0033-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 12/07/2012 (S.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0033-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Opposed Third Motion for Class Certification 03/15/2013
IM-TX-0033-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Fifth Amended Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 09/30/2013
IM-TX-0033-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Tagle, Hilda G. (S.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0033-0003 | IM-TX-0033-0004 | IM-TX-0033-0005 | IM-TX-0033-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brodyaga, Lisa S. (Texas)
IM-TX-0033-0001 | IM-TX-0033-0002 | IM-TX-0033-0006 | IM-TX-0033-0007 | IM-TX-0033-9000
Diez, Jaime M (Texas)
IM-TX-0033-0002 | IM-TX-0033-0006 | IM-TX-0033-0007 | IM-TX-0033-9000
Maldonado, Javier N (Texas)
IM-TX-0033-0006 | IM-TX-0033-9000
Potter, Cathy Jean (Texas)
IM-TX-0033-9000
Realmuto, Trina (District of Columbia)
IM-TX-0033-0006 | IM-TX-0033-0007 | IM-TX-0033-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Fabian, Sarah B. (District of Columbia)
IM-TX-0033-9000
Rodriguez, Victor Jr (Texas)
IM-TX-0033-9000
Saltman, Julie Shana (District of Columbia)
IM-TX-0033-9000
Stevens, Elizabeth Jones (District of Columbia)
IM-TX-0033-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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