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Case Name Haitian Refugee Center, Inc. v. Baker IM-FL-0008
Docket / Court 1:91-cv-02653-CCA ( S.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Immigration
Case Summary
On September 30, 1991, Haitian President Aristide was overthrown in a military coup and thousands of Haitians attempted to flee the country in boats headed for the U.S. The Haitian refugees were intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard and detained at the U.S. Coast Guard Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba ... read more >
On September 30, 1991, Haitian President Aristide was overthrown in a military coup and thousands of Haitians attempted to flee the country in boats headed for the U.S. The Haitian refugees were intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard and detained at the U.S. Coast Guard Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba or on Coast Guard vessels.

On November 19, 1991, the Haitian Refugee Center and individual Haitian refugees, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The Haitian Refugee Center alleged it was being denied access to Haitian refugees in violation of its First Amendment right of association and right to counsel. The named Haitian plaintiffs alleged violations of their right of non-refoulement which arose under Article 33 of the 1967 United Nations Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees and the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. §§ 555(b), 557, 558 and 702.

Upon plaintiffs' application, the District Court issued a TRO which restrained the government "from continuing to repatriate Haitians currently on board U.S.-flagged vessels and Haitians currently being held on land under United States' control and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba." Haitian Refugee Center, Inc. v. Baker, 1991 WL 330942 (S.D.Fla. Nov 19, 1991). On December 3, 1991, the District Court issued a preliminary injunction, enjoining the defendants from "forcefully repatriating the individual plaintiffs or class members in their custody either until the merits of the underlying action are resolved or until defendants implement and follow procedural safeguards adequate to ensure that Haitians with bona fide claims of political persecution are not forcefully returned to Haiti." Haitian Refugee Center, Inc. v. Baker, 789 F.Supp. 1552 (S.D.Fla. 1991). The case was certified as a class action, with the class defined as "all Haitian emigres who were intercepted by the United States Coast Guard pursuant to a "program of interdiction" that permits interception and repatriation of undocumented aliens." The government appealed.

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved the injunction as overbroad and remanded the case with instructions to dismiss the individual Haitians' Article 33 claim. Haitian Refugee Center v. Baker, 949 F.2d 1109 (11th Cir.1991). Rehearing was denied by Haitian Refugee Center, Inc. v. Baker, 954 F.2d 731 (11th Cir. 1992) and certiorari was denied by Haitian Refugee Center, Inc. v. Baker, 502 U.S. 1122, 112 S.Ct. 1245, 117 L.Ed.2d 477 (1992).

On remand, the District Court issued a second TRO on the plaintiffs' claim that defendants failed to follow the procedural requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. §§ 555(b). Haitian Refugee Center, Inc. v. Baker, 1991 WL 330944 (S.D.Fla. Dec 18, 1991). The government appealed and the TRO was stayed pending appeal. Haitian Refuge Center v. Baker, 950 F.2d 685 (11th Cir.1991). After entering the TRO, the District Court entered a preliminary injunction ordering the government to grant plaintiffs' lawyers access to the interdicted class members. Haitian Refugee Center, Inc. v. Baker, 789 F.Supp. 1579 (S.D.Fla.). A second preliminary injunction was issued on plaintiffs' APA claim. Haitian Refugee Center, Inc. v. Baker, 1991 WL 330943 (S.D.Fla. Dec 23, 1991). The government appealed.

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed all of the District Court orders, and remanded the case with instructions to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim. The Court of Appeals held that the Haitians who had been interdicted on the high seas never reached the U.S. and had no rights under the Administrative Procedure Act. The Court also found that the Haitian Refugee Center had no First Amendment right to access to the Haitian aliens. Haitian Refugee Center v. Baker, 953 F.2d 1498 (11th Cir.1992). Certiorari was denied. Haitian Refugee Center v. Baker, 502 U.S. 1122, 112 S.Ct. 1245, 117 L.Ed.2d 477 (1992).

Note that a similar case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. See Haitian Centers Council, Inc. v. McNary, IM-NY-6 of this collection.

Dan Dalton - 01/03/2008


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Immigration
Refugees
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Bivens
Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Defendant(s) Immigration and Naturalization Service
United States Coast Guard
United States Department of Justice
Plaintiff Description Haitian Refugee Center, Inc. and all Haitian emigres who were intercepted by the United States Coast Guard pursuant to a “program of interdiction” that permited interception and repatriation of undocumented aliens.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 1992
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing IM-NY-0006 : Haitian Centers Council, Inc. v. McNary (E.D.N.Y.)
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)
1:91-cv-02653-CCA (S.D. Fla.) 08/09/1993
IM-FL-0008-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 11/19/1991
IM-FL-0008-0001.pdf | Detail
[Order] 11/19/1991 (1991 WL 330942) (S.D. Fla.)
IM-FL-0008-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Order Granting Preliminary Injunctive Relief and Supporting Memorandum Opinion 12/03/1991 (789 F.Supp. 1552) (S.D. Fla.)
IM-FL-0008-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Appellate Opinion 12/17/1991 (949 F.2d 1109)
IM-FL-0008-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
[Order] 12/18/1991 (1991 WL 330944) (S.D. Fla.)
IM-FL-0008-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Appellate Opinion 12/19/1991 (950 F.2d 685)
IM-FL-0008-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order Granting Limited Preliminary Injunctive Relief 12/20/1991 (789 F.Supp. 1579) (S.D. Fla.)
IM-FL-0008-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
[Order] 12/23/1991 (1991 WL 330943) (S.D. Fla.)
IM-FL-0008-0009.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Denials of Rehearing En Banc 01/28/1992 (954 F.2d 731)
IM-FL-0008-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
[Supreme Court Order] 01/31/1992 (502 U.S. 1083)
IM-FL-0008-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Appellate Opinion 02/04/1992 (953 F.2d 1498)
IM-FL-0008-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Decision 02/11/1992 (502 U.S. 1084)
IM-FL-0008-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Memorandum Decision 02/24/1992 (502 U.S. 1122)
IM-FL-0008-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Atkins, Carl Clyde (S.D. Fla.)
IM-FL-0008-0002 | IM-FL-0008-0005 | IM-FL-0008-0008 | IM-FL-0008-0009 | IM-FL-0008-9000
Blackmun, Harry Andrew (SCOTUS, Eighth Circuit)
IM-FL-0008-0011 | IM-FL-0008-0012 | IM-FL-0008-0013
Cox, Emmett Ripley (S.D. Ala., Eleventh Circuit)
IM-FL-0008-0003 | IM-FL-0008-0004 | IM-FL-0008-0006
Graham, Donald L. (S.D. Fla.)
IM-FL-0008-0007
Hatchett, Joseph Woodrow (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit) [Magistrate]
IM-FL-0008-0003 | IM-FL-0008-0004 | IM-FL-0008-0006
Kennedy, Henry Harold Jr. (D.D.C.) [Magistrate]
IM-FL-0008-0011 | IM-FL-0008-0012
Stevens, John Paul (SCOTUS, Seventh Circuit)
IM-FL-0008-0011 | IM-FL-0008-0013
Thomas, Clarence (SCOTUS, D.C. Circuit)
IM-FL-0008-0011 | IM-FL-0008-0013
Tjoflat, Gerald Bard (Fifth Circuit, M.D. Fla., Eleventh Circuit)
IM-FL-0008-0003 | IM-FL-0008-0004 | IM-FL-0008-0006
Monitors/Masters Bierman, Donald I. (Florida)
IM-FL-0008-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Juceam, Robert E. (New York)
IM-FL-0008-0004
Kurzban, Ira J. (Florida)
IM-FL-0008-0002 | IM-FL-0008-0003 | IM-FL-0008-0004 | IM-FL-0008-0005 | IM-FL-0008-0006 | IM-FL-0008-9000
Little, Cheryl (Florida)
IM-FL-0008-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Daly, John F. (District of Columbia)
IM-FL-0008-0003 | IM-FL-0008-0004 | IM-FL-0008-0006
Lee, Dexter (Florida)
IM-FL-0008-0002 | IM-FL-0008-0005 | IM-FL-0008-9000
Singer, Michael Jay (District of Columbia)
IM-FL-0008-0003 | IM-FL-0008-0004 | IM-FL-0008-0006
Starr, Kenneth Winston (District of Columbia)
IM-FL-0008-0003 | IM-FL-0008-0006
Swaine, Edward T (District of Columbia)
IM-FL-0008-0003 | IM-FL-0008-0006
Other Lawyers None on record

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