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Case Name In re Hutto Family Detention Center IM-TX-0005
Docket / Court 1:07-cv-00164-SS ( W.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Immigration
Attorney Organization ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
National Center for Youth Law
Case Summary
On March 6, 2007, attorneys with the national ACLU Foundation, the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, the ACLU National Prison project, the ACLU of Texas, the University of Texas School of Law Immigration Clinic and private cooperating counsel filed ten separate lawsuits in U.S. District Court for ... read more >
On March 6, 2007, attorneys with the national ACLU Foundation, the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, the ACLU National Prison project, the ACLU of Texas, the University of Texas School of Law Immigration Clinic and private cooperating counsel filed ten separate lawsuits in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas challenge the conditions of confinement for immigrant children and their families who were detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas. Additional lawsuits were subsequently filed, and eventually twenty such suits were consolidated by the District Court (Judge Sam Sparks) under the case In re Hutto Family Detention Center, No. 1:07-cv-00164-SS.

Plaintiffs asserted claims for alleged violations of the 1997 Settlement Agreement in Flores v. Meese, No. 85-cv-4544 (C.D. Cal.), IM-CA-0002. In Flores, the U.S. Department of Justice settled a class action lawsuit brought by minor immigrant detainees by agreeing to establish minimum standards and conditions for the housing and release of all minors in federal immigration custody. The Agreement provided that: (1) children would generally be released promptly to their parents or designated family members, or, if necessary, to shelters and unrelated custodians; (2) those class members who remained in ICE's custody must be placed in the least restrictive setting possible, generally a facility or home licensed for the care of dependent, non-delinquent minors; and (3) regardless of where they were housed, detained minors were to be guaranteed a range of basic educational, health, social, and other benefits and rights. The Agreement also explicitly provided at Paragraph 24 that any minor in federal immigration custody who believed that the conditions of his/her detention failed to meet the established minimum standard of care could file suit in federal court to seek redress.

The lawsuits filed by the Hutto detainees all invoked Paragraph 24 of the Flores Agreement and alleged that conditions at Hutto violated virtually every single provision of the Flores Settlement Agreement. Plaintiffs alleged that Hutto was operated as a medium security prison, where children were: (1) required to wear prison uniforms; (2) confined to small cells; (3) denied access to adequate medical, dental, and mental health treatment; (4) denied adequate educational opportunities; and (5) frequently disciplined by guards who threatened to permanently separate them from their parents.

The lawsuits sought a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction, requesting the release of the detained children and their families under reasonable conditions of supervision, and for an order prohibiting the government from separating the children from their parents.

The government denied the allegations and opposed injunctive relief.

On April 9, 2007, the District Court (Judge Sparks) held a hearing on plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction. The Court granted plaintiffs' request in part and denied it in part, denying the request for the children's' immediate release, but finding that the conditions at Hutto violated the Flores Agreement and that plaintiffs were likely to prevail at trial. Bunikyte ex rel. Bunikiene v. Chertoff, No. 1:07-cv-00164-SS, 2007 WL 1074070 (W.D. Tex. Apr. 9, 2007). Judge Sparks determined that a full evidentiary hearing was necessary to determine the extent of the violations and the appropriate remedy. The case was set for trial in August 2007.

On April 18, 2007, The government moved to dismiss the case, or in the alternative, to stay proceedings to Enable Parties to Devote Full Resources to Resolving All Claims Brought Under Paragraph 24 of the Flores Settlement Agreement. Judge Sparks denied the motion on May 10.

Settlement negotiations ensued and the case was submitted to mediation, where it was ultimately resolved in July 2007. A formal Settlement Agreement was reached and approved by the Court on August 29, 2007. The Agreement called for a number of substantial reforms, including changes in the areas of recreation, educational programming, guard training, improved medical care, visitation, food service and privacy, and elimination of 12-hour-a-day cell lock-down. Compliance was to be monitored by federal Magistrate Judge Andrew W. Austin who was to conduct periodic inspections of the Hutto facility. The agreement was set to terminate at the first of three events: the publication in the federal register of final regulations implementing the Flores Agreement, the discontinuance of use of Hutto as a family residential center, and the passage of two years.

On July 2, 2009, Magistrate Judge Austin issued his final compliance report, finding that Hutto had made significant progress in many areas, and especially in mental health services, but that food, communication between residents and staff and staff behavior toward residents continued to be areas of concern, and that the facility, which was originally constructed as a jail, was ultimately ill-suited to its current use.

On August 6, 2009, the federal government announced that it would cease housing families in the Hutto center, and by September 17, 2009, the last families had been transferred to a smaller facility in Pennsylvania or released subject to home or electronic monitoring. The Court (Judge Sparks) dismissed the case on October 6.

Christopher Schad - 06/08/2012


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Immigration
Constitutional rights
Detention - conditions
Detention - criteria
Family
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Plaintiff Description Immigrant childern detained at the the T. Don Hutto Detention Center, Taylor, Texas.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
National Center for Youth Law
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2007 - 2009
Case Closing Year 2009
Case Ongoing No
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)
1:07-cv-00164-SS (W.D. Tex.) 10/06/2009
IM-TX-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 03/06/2007
IM-TX-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Plaintiff’s Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order to Prevent Separation from Her Mother 03/06/2007
IM-TX-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
Plaintiff's Motion for a Preliminary Injunction Ordering Her Immediate Release from Hutto with Her Mother Under Conditions of Supervision, and Permitting Her Counsel and Experts to Inspect the Facility and Examine Plaintiff 03/06/2007
IM-TX-0005-0019.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Appendix in Support of Plaintiff's [March 6 Motions]: Declarations of Residents, Plaintiff's Attorneys, and Medical Experts 03/06/2007
IM-TX-0005-0075.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Appendix in Support of Plaintiff's [March 6 Motions]: The Flores Settlement 03/06/2007
IM-TX-0005-0076.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff’s Reply In Support Of Her Motion For A Preliminary Injunction Ordering Her Immediate Release From Hutto With Her Mother 03/19/2007
IM-TX-0005-0004.pdf | Detail
Plaintiffs' Supplemental Brief in Support of their Motions for Preliminary Injunction 03/29/2007
IM-TX-0005-0017.pdf | Detail
Appendix in Support of Plaintiffs' Supplemental Brief in Support of their Motions for Preliminary Injunction 03/29/2007
IM-TX-0005-0018.pdf | Detail
Order [Placing Medical Records of Plaintiffs and Their Parents Under Seal] 04/06/2007 (W.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0005-0020.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Granting In Part and Denying In Part Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction] 04/09/2007 (2007 WL 1074070 ) (W.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0005-0021.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss and, in the Alternative, Motion to Stay Proceedings to Enable Parties to Devote Full Resources to Resolving All Claims Brought Under Paragraph 24 of the Flores Settlement Agreement 04/18/2007
IM-TX-0005-0022.pdf | Detail
Order [Denying Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or Stay Proceedings] 05/10/2007 (W.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0005-0027.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement 08/26/2007
IM-TX-0005-0033.pdf | Detail
Press Release: Landmark Settlement Announced in Federal Lawsuit Challenging Conditions at Immigrant Detention Center in Texas (8/27/2007) 08/27/2007
IM-TX-0005-0023.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Management Standard - Admission and Release 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0034.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Contraband 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0035.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Discipline and Behavior Management 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0037.pdf | Detail
ICE Family Residential Standard - Education Standard 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0038.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Emergency Plans 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0039.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Environmental Health and Safety 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0040.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Escorted Trips for Non-Medical Emergency 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0041.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Food Service 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0042.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Funds and Personal Property 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0043.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Grievance System 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0044.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Housekeeping and Voluntary Work 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0045.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Hunger Strikes 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0046.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Key and Lock Control 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0047.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Law Libraries and Legal Materials 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0048.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Legal Rights Groups Presentations 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0049.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Marriage Requests 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0050.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Medical Care 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0051.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - News Media Interviews and Tours 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0052.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Personal Hygiene 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0053.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Post Orders 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0054.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Recreation 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0055.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Religious Practices 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0056.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Resident Census 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0057.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Resident and Staff Communication 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0058.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Residential File 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0059.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Searches of Residents 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0060.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Sexual Abuse and Assault Prevention and Intervention 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0061.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Staff Hiring and Training 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0062.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Suicide Prevention and Intervention 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0063.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Telephone Access 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0064.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Terminal Illness, Advance Directives and Death 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0065.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Tool Control 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0066.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Transfer of Residents 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0067.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Transportation (by land) 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0068.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Use of Physical Force and Restraints 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0069.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Visitation 01/11/2008
IM-TX-0005-0070.pdf | Detail
ICE/DRO Residential Standard - Correspondence and other Mail 01/14/2008
IM-TX-0005-0036.pdf | Detail
Final Compliance Review 07/02/2009
IM-TX-0005-0071.pdf | Detail
Document Source: ACLU National Prison Project
Press Release: DHS Plan To Improve Immigration Detention And Close Hutto Facility A Good First Step (Updated 8/11/2009) 08/06/2009
IM-TX-0005-0072.pdf | Detail
Document Source:
Judges Austin, Andrew W. (W.D. Tex.) [Magistrate]
IM-TX-0005-0071
Sparks, Sam (W.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0005-0020 | IM-TX-0005-0021 | IM-TX-0005-0027 | IM-TX-0005-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bhat, Ghouri (Texas)
IM-TX-0005-0001 | IM-TX-0005-0002 | IM-TX-0005-0017 | IM-TX-0005-0019 | IM-TX-0005-0033 | IM-TX-0005-9000
Gorman, Sean (Texas)
IM-TX-0005-0001 | IM-TX-0005-0002 | IM-TX-0005-0004 | IM-TX-0005-0017 | IM-TX-0005-0019 | IM-TX-0005-9000
Graybill, Lisa Shawn (Texas)
IM-TX-0005-0001 | IM-TX-0005-0002 | IM-TX-0005-0004 | IM-TX-0005-0017 | IM-TX-0005-0019 | IM-TX-0005-9000
Gupta, Vanita (New York)
IM-TX-0005-0001 | IM-TX-0005-0002 | IM-TX-0005-0004 | IM-TX-0005-0017 | IM-TX-0005-0019 | IM-TX-0005-0033 | IM-TX-0005-9000
Hines, Barbara (Texas)
IM-TX-0005-0001 | IM-TX-0005-0002 | IM-TX-0005-0004 | IM-TX-0005-0017 | IM-TX-0005-0019 | IM-TX-0005-9000
Jawetz, Tom-Tsvi M. (District of Columbia)
IM-TX-0005-0001 | IM-TX-0005-0002 | IM-TX-0005-0004 | IM-TX-0005-0017 | IM-TX-0005-0019 | IM-TX-0005-9000
Lable, Stephen J. (Massachusetts)
IM-TX-0005-0004 | IM-TX-0005-0017 | IM-TX-0005-9000
Mukherjee, Elora (New York)
IM-TX-0005-0001 | IM-TX-0005-0002 | IM-TX-0005-0004 | IM-TX-0005-0017 | IM-TX-0005-0019 | IM-TX-0005-9000
Parker, Dennis D. (New York)
IM-TX-0005-0001 | IM-TX-0005-0002 | IM-TX-0005-0004 | IM-TX-0005-0017 | IM-TX-0005-0019 | IM-TX-0005-9000
Rabinovitz, Judy (New York)
IM-TX-0005-0001 | IM-TX-0005-0002 | IM-TX-0005-0004 | IM-TX-0005-0017 | IM-TX-0005-0019 | IM-TX-0005-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Keisler, Peter D. (District of Columbia)
IM-TX-0005-0022
Kline, David J. (District of Columbia)
IM-TX-0005-0022
Lawrence, Victor M. (District of Columbia)
IM-TX-0005-0022 | IM-TX-0005-0033 | IM-TX-0005-9000
Paniszczyn, John Francis (District of Columbia)
IM-TX-0005-0022
Sutton, David P. (District of Columbia)
IM-TX-0005-0022
Wiggers, Edward (District of Columbia)
IM-TX-0005-0022 | IM-TX-0005-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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